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Cristobal Huet ( ; born September 3, 1975) is a Frenchmarker professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has also played with the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, and Washington Capitals. He is the first netminder and second player overall (after Philippe Bozon) from France to play in the NHL. Cristobal has the most points all-time by any other French player in the NHL.

Playing career

Early Years

Huet was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings as their seventh-round pick, 214th overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He played for the Kings in the 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 seasons. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a three-team deal that sent Mathieu Garon to Los Angeles and Radek Bonk from the Ottawa Senators to Montreal. During the lockout Huet played for the Mannheim Eagles in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. He led the team to the finals, where it lost three straight games to Eisbären Berlin.

Montreal Canadiens

During the 2005–06 season, Huet eventually won the starting job in goal for the Canadiens at the expense of José Théodore who was subsequently traded to Colorado in exchange for goaltender David Aebischer. He also won the Molson Cup in February 2006. The Molson Cup is awarded monthly to the best Montreal Canadiens' player. He won the Best Defensive Player award from the NHL during the first week of March, ousting goaltenders such as the Ottawa Senators' Ray Emery and the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur, with a 3–0–0 record and a 1.67 GAA. For the second time of the year, he was named NHL Best Defensive Player on April 3 with a 3–0–0 record, a 0.65 GAA and 0.979 SV%, ousting goaltenders Martin Brodeur, Miikka Kiprusoff and Manny Legace.

On April 23, in his first Stanley Cup playoffs start, Huet starred in a 6–1 win against the 2nd seed in Eastern Conference—the Carolina Hurricanes. Huet stopped 42 of 43 shots in the contest to put the Canadiens up 1–0 in the seven game series. Two days later, Huet recorded his first overtime playoff win, when the Canadiens beat the Hurricanes 6–5 in two overtimes to take the lead 2–0 in the series. But in the next four games, Huet and the Canadiens lost games 2–1, 3–2, 2–1 and 2–1 and the series in goaltender duels with rookie Cam Ward, who took Martin Gerber's starting spot in the series, and who would later go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Canadiens re-signed Huet in the 2006 offseason for two years at $5.75 million total, earning $3.00 million the first season and $2.75 million in the second.

On January 13, 2007, Huet was announced as one of the three goalies of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team in the 55th NHL All-Star Game in Dallasmarker. A month later, however, he suffered a left hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of the final two months of the season. In his absence, the Canadiens struggled, and the team missed the postseason.

Washington Capitals

On February 26, 2008 Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey traded the French netminder to the Washington Capitals for a 2009 second-round draft pick. Huet had become expendable to Montreal once franchise goaltender Carey Price had arrived. He took over the starting position from Olaf Kölzig, and his exceptional play helped lead Washington to securing a playoff berth, where they lost their opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games.

Chicago Blackhawks

On July 1, 2008, the first day of unrestricted free-agency, he agreed to terms on a new 4-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks worth a total of $22.4 million or $5.625 million per season.

Following the signing, Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon announced the team would enter the season with a tandem of Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin. Unable to win over Khabibulin to start the season, Huet found himself on the bench more often than not. His play picked up noticeably in late November, as he transitioned to orange and yellow pads from his old black, red and white ones. Gradually, he earned back his playing time and both alternated every game for almost 3 months until Khabibulin went down with a groin injury in early February. The tandem has earned praise from around the NHL as Chicago owns had a solid goaltending rotation in the NHL, with both goaltenders in the top 10 for goals-against average and save percentage as of March 2009 . A second Khabibulin injury in early February thrust Huet in the spotlight once again, and he was named the NHL's 3rd star of the week for Feb 15-21, posting a 3-0-0 record and allowing just five goals on 72 shots. In the end, however, Khabibulin was named the playoff starter for the Blackhawks, and they defeated the Calgary Flames in the first round as well as the Vancouver Canucks in the second round.

Huet made his next appearance for the Blackhawks during game three of the 2009 Western Conference Finals, where he was called to replace an injured Khabibulin. He made six saves, and allowed the Blackhawks to collect on overtime win. With Khabibulin still recovering from a lower body injury, Joel Quenneville named Huet the team's starting goalie for the fourth game against Detroit. Huet allowed five goals on 21 shots, and was temporarily replaced by Corey Crawford. During the final game of the series, Huet stopped 44 shots en route to a 2-1 over time loss.

Career statistics

Regular season

   
Season Team League GP W L T OT MIN GA SO GAA SV%
2002–03 Manchester Monarchs AHL 30 16 8 5 - 1784 68 1 2.29 .922
2002–03 Los Angeles Kings NHL 12 4 4 1 - 541 21 1 2.33 .913
2003–04 Los Angeles Kings NHL 41 10 16 10 - 2199 89 3 2.43 .907
2005–06 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 4 0 4 - - 237 15 0 3.79 .862
2005–06 Montreal Canadiens NHL 36 18 11 - 4 2102 77 7 2.20 .929
2006–07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 42 19 16 - 3 2286 107 2 2.81 .916
2007–08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 39 21 12 - 6 2278 97 2 2.55 .916
2007–08 Washington Capitals NHL 13 11 2 - 0 771 21 2 1.63 .936
2008–09 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 41 20 15 - 4 2351 99 3 2.53 .909
NHL totals 224 103 76 11 17 12,529 511 20 2.45 .917


Playoff career

   
Season Team League GP W L MIN GA SA GAA SV%
2005–06 Manchester Monarchs AHL 1 0 1 30 4 18 8.08 .778
2005–06 Montreal Canadiens NHL 6 2 4 385 15 212 2.33 .929
2007–08 Washington Capitals NHL 7 3 4 451 22 242 2.90 .909
2008–09 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 3 1 2 130 7 78 3.23 .910
NHL totals 16 6 10 967 44 532 2.73 .917


International play

Played for France in:

International statistics

Year Team Comp GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA SV%
1998 France Oly 2 1 1 0 120 5 0 2.50 .925
1999 France IIHF 1 - - - 60 6 0 6.00 .714
2000 France IIHF 4 - - - 239 11 0 2.76 .892
2002 France Oly 3 0 2 1 179 10 0 3.36 .884
2004 France IIHF 4 0 3 1 198 17 0 5.25 .851
2008 France IIHF 5 2 3 0 250 15 0 3.60 .911


Honours

  • French Elite League Champion with the Brûleurs de loups of Grenoblemarker, 1997/98
  • Albert Hassler Trophy (Most Valuable Domestic Player in the French Elite League), 1997/98
  • Jean Ferrand Trophy (Most Valuable Goaltender in the French Elite League), 1996/97 and 1997/98


  • Swiss National A League Champion with HC Lugano, 1998/99
  • European Hockey League Final Four with HC Lugano, 1999/00
  • Jacques Plante Trophy (Best GAA in the Swiss National A League), 1999/00 and 2000/01




  • NHL Defensive Player of the Week 3–5–06
  • NHL All Star Team roster - 2007
  • Nominee for NHL All Star team - 2008
  • NHL 3rd star for January 2008
  • NHL 3rd star of the week (Feb 15-21)


References

  1. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/2008-02-29-capitals-devils_N.htm


External links




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