Caps Introduce Huet, Fedorov

Cristobal Huet became the Capitals' third goaltender when he was acquired Tuesday in a trade with Montreal.
Cristobal Huet became the Capitals' third goaltender when he was acquired Tuesday in a trade with Montreal. (By David Boily -- Associated Press)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cristobal Huet first suspected something was up Monday.

Montreal Canadiens Coach Guy Carbonneau had been going with the hot goaltender in recent weeks, alternating between Huet and phenom Carey Price.

"It was win and you're in," Huet said. And because Price had lost his previous start, Huet assumed he would be in net Tuesday against the Atlanta Thrashers. But after Monday's practice, Carbonneau informed the goalies that Price would play instead.

Huet's hunch, of course, turned out to be correct. But that didn't make the news any less jarring for the 32-year-old free-agent-to-be on Tuesday, when he was told he had been traded to the Washington Capitals for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft.

The Capitals also added center Sergei Fedorov from the Columbus Blue Jackets and left wing Matt Cooke from the Vancouver Canucks just before the NHL's trade deadline, bolstering their lineup for the playoff push, which resumes tomorrow in Newark against the Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey Devils.

Huet and Fedorov were introduced to reporters yesterday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, though neither practiced with his new teammates earlier in the day. Cooke, meantime, is expected to meet the team tomorrow in New Jersey after completing his immigration papers.

"I played almost 40 games for the Canadiens, and we were in a good situation," Huet said, surrounding by nearly a dozen reporters. "So I expected to finish there. But they had other plans."

The Capitals' plans for Huet remain unclear. Huet became the Capitals' third goaltender, joining incumbent starter Olie Kolzig and backup Brent Johnson on a roster that suddenly has one too many goaltenders.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he has devised a plan for juggling the trio, but declined to discuss it publicly because he had not shared it with his players. That likely will happen during a meeting this morning before practice.

"Obviously, when you trade for players, you want to play them," said Boudreau, who coached Huet for four months with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League during the 2002-03 season before the goalie was promoted to the Los Angeles Kings. "In the end, [Huet] is probably going to be the guy that makes the decision of how much he plays, and that's depending on how good he plays -- like Olie and Brent."

Boudreau's first tough decision will come in Newark. Huet has the best statistics of the three (2.55 goals against average, a .916 save percentage) and would be prepared to start against the Devils. Kolzig, though, is coming off a 34-save performance in Tuesday's 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, making it difficult to leave him on the bench. Then there's Johnson, who, before Huet's arrival, was tentatively scheduled to play tomorrow.

No matter what happens, it makes for an awkward situation for Huet, the second French-born player to skate in the NHL.

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