It seems that sometimes loyalty does not pay off in the cutthroat world of sports.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has been a Detroit Red Wing for over 15 years and was even drafted by the organization all the way back in 2003 when he was selected in the second round (64th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Since then he has played all 542 of his National Hockey League games as a member of the Red Wings, but if his career is to continue in the NHL it now appears as though it will have to be somewhere else.
Howard signed a one year deal under former Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and no doubt the intention behind that deal was to play himself into another contract the following season, but Howard has failed to do so. On Sunday Detroit Red Wings insider Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press revealed that Howard would not be back for another season following the abysmal season the Red Wings have just had.
Howard, 36, was signed to a one-year extension last season by then-general manager Ken Holland with the mindset that if Howard played well, he’d be back for another season. That won’t happen – Howard, 36, struggled in 2019-20: 2-23-2 with a 4.20 GAA and .882 save percentage.
There is no question that Howard had a rather poor season with the Red Wings and on top of that he was consistently outplayed by goaltender Jonathan Bernier who is 5 years younger, comes with a lower salary cap hit than Howard, and has another year of term left on his current contract. It is true that the Red Wings were abysmal this season and you have to wonder how that could have impacted his performance overall, but nonetheless you can understand why newly appointed general manager Steve Yzerman might be looking to make a tough, and maybe even a little ruthless, decision here.
It will be interesting to see if Howard decides to play for another season, a move that would necessitate him joining only the second NHL team of his career, and even more interesting to see what kind of interest he would draw on the open market and what type of role he would need to assume to continue his career beyond this point.