By Mike Board - Calgary Herald
September 13, 1997
By this point in the Calgary Flames' training camp last year, the goaltending situation was front and centre.
A three-goalie system was becoming a three-headed monster. The National Hockey League waiver draft was approaching and the netminders were nervous, confused and unsettled.
What a difference a year makes.
The goaltender who was placed on waivers and ultimately traded, Rick Tabaracci, is back as the No.1 netminder.
The former No. 1 goalie, Trevor Kidd, has been traded.
Dwayne Roloson, the man in the middle for awhile last season, has signed a new one-year deal and should fit comfortably into a back-up role behind Tabaracci as there is no animosity between the two.
There is, it would appear, harmony between the pipes.
"I don't think anything changes. I don't think you should be measuring yourself against other players. You gauge yourself against yourself and where you should be," Tabaracci said.
"After this many years, I don't think the word complacency should ever slip into a locker room. That applies to a first-year guy to a guy who has been 14 years in this business. You always have to keep pushing yourself because there is always somebody looking for your job."
Since first turning pro in 1989, Tabaracci has been traded five times. The last trade, when Calgary re-acquired him from Tampa Bay this summer, was probably the most important.
"They still had a lot invested in Kidder. I completely understood why I was the guy to go last year,'' he said Friday. ''Whether I agreed or not, I understood it. I think after you have played a while, it makes it easier to understand and accept."
When Tabaracci left the Flames, in exhange for centre Aaron Gavey, it was an emotional goodbye. He had become attached to the city, the team and his teammates.
"I guess I hoped I would be back here at one point,'' he acknowledged, ''but I don't think anybody expected it to be as quick as it was, which probably makes it all that much better because things are still very fresh."
Tabaracci returns to Calgary a more mature goalie after playing in a career-high 62 games last season. He finished with a 2.70 goals against average, slightly better than the league average of 2.75 GAA, while playing for two teams that produced little offence in front of him.
The 28-year-old netminder proved to himself that he could play lots of games and play consistently.
"It's the best feeling I have had in a long time,'' he said. ''The hardest part over the last five years was to get into that role. I felt I could play a lot and wanted to play a lot.
''In Washington (1992-95), I ran into a rash of injuries. I was getting an opportunity to play, but I couldn't. When I came here, it was in a role (behind Kidd) and it was fine. I was happy to be getting a fresh start. It was a breath of fresh air coming here."
For a while. Then the air got polluted with the inevitable politics of a three-goalie system and Tabaracci was the odd-man out.
"I went down there thinking that I was the same goaltender from the last few years,'' Tabaracci said. ''I was 27 last year. I'm hitting my prime at 28. Knock on wood and hope that the injury bug has subsided. It's been a great run the last three or four years.
"It's nice to get to the point where the organization says they have confidence in you and they want you to be the main guy, especially when you are a goaltender. It probably means that much more because they have to rely on you that much more."
The last time he played here, Tabaracci rented a house.
This summer, he bought a home.
"I hope to be here a long time. I think this will be my home after I finish playing. Things might change hockey-wise, but I like it here and it will be my home."
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