When Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop was removed in the second period during his team’s game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, fans assumed Bishop suffered some sort of injury. The Stars were trailing the Avalanche by a 3-2 score, but Bishop was hardly responsible for his team trailing in the contest and there didn’t appear to be any logical reason for the hook outside of an injury.
As it turns out, Bishop was completely fine and he wasn’t too pleased with head coach Ken Hitchcock’s decision to bring in Kari Lehtonen.
Bishop was quite blunt with his opinions on Hitchcock’s move with the media:
Ben Bishop: "There was no reason for me to come out. I guess that's the coach's decision… I'm not very happy with the decision." pic.twitter.com/Km4I3yauCA
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 25, 2017
If you’re curious, the Stars didn’t improve much with Lehtonen in goal, losing 5-3.
When asked about his decision, Hitchcock defended it by saying his team needed a jump.
Via the Sporting News:
“It was time to make a change, we were slow and dozy across the board. We needed a wake-up call, so we got it. It has nothing to do with Ben Bishop. It has to do with: `Wake up, let’s get playing.’ Which is exactly what we did. It has nothing to do with Ben, and I’ll do the same thing with any other goaltender.
If I think it’s going to help the team and change their mindset, I’ll have to do whatever it takes.”
Goalie changes can get a team moving, but it still seems strange to make that kind of a decision in a one-goal game. It seems like the risk of long-term harm to the goalie may dwarf any short-term gains.
No goalie is going to come out and say they were happy with being benched, but many will understand the decision if it occurs during a lopsided game. With Bishop, the game was close and his team was only trailing by one goal. On the year, Bishop has played well and is still holding a .920 save percentage even after the game in which he was sent to ride the pine. Meanwhile, Lehtonen is clearly the inferior goaltender.
Why risk upsetting your best goalie for a move which may have no measurable benefits? Bishop was added to the roster to win tight games and improve Dallas’ notoriously weak goaltending, not sit on the bench.
Bishop’s reaction is more than understandable and should have fans worrying about whether or not this will create a rift between the Stars’ best goalie and the team’s head coach.