Legace knows what's on the line

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

DETROIT -- Quote. Unquote.

Truth. And reality.

"All I have to do is win the Stanley Cup. If I don't, I'm not going to be staying in Detroit. That's the way it is. Period. That's the truth. That's the reality. The only way I'll be able to stay here is if we win the Stanley Cup."

That's not your average, every day, standard, run of the mill, pre-playoff series kind of quote from a guy in a no-place-for-a-nervous-person position.

Manny Legace, his goal pads still on after the Detroit Red Wings practice here yesterday, sat in his dressing room stall for a half hour, trying to explain why his view isn't as warped as it sounds.

Like Dwayne Roloson, the guy in goal at the other end of the ice for the Edmonton Oilers when this Stanley Cup playoff series opens here tonight, Legace is a career backup getting his chance to be a starter. Unlike Roloson, he plays for the Red Wings.

"In the eyes of the owner and the eyes of the general manager, I'm sure I have to win the Stanley Cup if I want to be here next year. I want to be here. I want to retire here. But that won't happen unless we go all the way. And I don't want to go anywhere.

"That's the way the owner is here," he said of pizza king Mike Ilitch.

"He'll do anything he can do to win. They'll go out and do anything they have to do to win the Stanley Cup," he said of 15 consecutive seasons in the playoffs with three titles in there.

SALARY CAP ROOM

This is a team which put more points in the standings this year than all but four teams in NHL history.

"There's going to be a lot more room with the salary cap next year. They'll have room to add a goalie," he adds, clearly having thought this through.

All Legace has done this year was win 37 games and become the first Red Wing goalie since Roger Crozier to register seven shutouts. Only Miikka Kiprusoff and Dominik Hasek had a lower goals against average than his 2.19. He was eighth in save percentage at .915.

"His statistics prove he's in the upper echelon of goalies," said coach Mike Babcock.

"He's earned the right to feel real confident in himself. All he has to be is as good as he's capable of being like the rest of the players on this team. It's not like J.S. Giguere when we went to the final in Anaheim and went up against the Red Wings in the first round. Giguere had to be better than he was capable of playing. We were outshot 20-1 in the first overtime."

Legace played his previous four playoff games replacing an injured Curtis Joseph against Nashville in 2004.

He gave up a goal 16 seconds into his first game and faced a penalty shot three minutes later. He won 3-1. Winning Game 2 as well, he was brutal in the next two, both losses, and was out of there as Cujo returned for Game 5.

STICKS OUT

With Hasek out with injury, after you get by Marty Brodeur in New Jersey, Marty Turco in Dallas, Kiprusoff in Calgary and Giguere in Anaheim, no experience was necessary for a lot of guys to get here this year. But on a team with as much experience everywhere else in the lineup as the Red Wings, Lagace does stick out some. And they're sensitive about it around here.

"How many playoff games had Kiprusoff played before last season?" asked Babcock of the Calgary netminder who went to Game 7 of the Cup final in the last Stanley season.

Correct answer: Zero.

"How many playoff games had Giguere played before we went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in Anaheim?"

Correct answer, again: Zero.

But Legace says reality check.

"What have I proved?

"I've proved nothing. I don't think I've proven anything in the eyes of anybody.

"I've been a goalie on a good team.

"It's the harsh realities of sport. Truth and reality. They are not going to put up with a goalie who loses in the first round."

Adds a whole new perspective to the concept of 'Stanley Cup Or Bust.'


Photos