Roloson hopes to keep rollin'

Lightning goaltender Duane Roloson backstopped the team on its unllikely playoff run last season....

Lightning goaltender Duane Roloson backstopped the team on its unllikely playoff run last season. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency file photo)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 PM ET

TAMPA - Dwayne Roloson has defied skeptics in the past.

So despite the fact the Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender has had his struggles this season, and he’s on the wrong side of 40, there’s no reason to believe Roloson can’t continue playing beyond this year.

He’s not ready to quit.

“Right now I’m focusing on what I have to do to try to win some hockey games this season,” Roloson said before facing his former team in the Edmonton Oilers Thursday. “If I get an opportunity to play again, then I would love it. But it’s about trying to find out what’s out there and what’s the best situation for myself and my family.

“I haven’t even really crossed that bridge yet. I’m going to focus on those things once the season is done. I’d like to play again. If the opportunity arises again, then great. If not, then you have to resort to plan B and I’ll figure what that is after the season ends.”

Roloson, 42, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

He doesn’t look his age and feels as though he still can contribute at the NHL level, whether it’s in Tampa or somewhere else.

Roloson’s less than a year removed from backstopping the Lightning on an improbable playoff run last season.

“I feel good, my body feels great,” Roloson said. “It’s just about going out and doing what I can do. Heading down the stretch here, we have a lot of guys that have been up and down all year and now it’s an opportunity for everybody, myself included, to go out and play well. There are some guys that don’t have contracts for next year and they are going to get the chance to play and maybe get an offer somewhere else.”

Even if he doesn’t get offered a contract, Roloson can look back at his career proud of the fact he had to scratch and claw for everything he’s earned.

Undrafted, Roloson signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames, where he worked his way up through their AHL affiliate before being moved to Buffalo.

From there, the native of Simcoe, Ont., moved to on to play with the Minnesota Wild before landing in Edmonton, where he helped the Oilers get to the Stanley Cup final in 2006.

“For me, Edmonton was great, getting traded there, qualifying for the playoffs, I think in our second-last game of the season, then having the run we did and the success we had in the playoffs was amazing,” Roloson said. “Those are things and memories you never forget. Everyone had a great time and the family really enjoyed it out there. It was a great place to play hockey, that’s for sure.”

After spending another three seasons with the Oilers after the cup run, Roloson went on to sign with the New York Islanders before ending up in Tampa last season, where he helped the Lightning get to the Eastern Conference final.

“It’s pretty impressive what he’s been able to do, last year with the run and stuff and how he’s played over in his career,” said Oilers defenceman Nick Schultz, a teammate of Roloson’s with the Minnesota Wild. “When we traded him to Edmonton I think a lot of people in Minnesota thought he was done. And to go see him do what he did in Edmonton was pretty special, and it was tough to see him get hurt in the final.

“He’s a quality guy, he’s a fun guy to come to the rink with and be around. He was good to me as a young player, me coming in and having him around he really helped. It’s fun to see him still going at his age, that’s impressive.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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