Jackets sign Brathwaite, call goalie "good fit"
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Cast off from the Blues before the end of the regular season, goaltender Fred Brathwaite recently packed up his car, left St. Louis for his home in Ottawa and picked up a job along the way.
Brathwaite, an unrestricted free agent, signed Friday with the Columbus Blue Jackets. A formal announcement is expected early this week.
"I am very excited," said Brathwaite, 30. "I think this is going to be a chance for me to play a little bit more, be in a situation where I'll see more ice time . . . and show that I can still play at this level."
Brathwaite was 21-20-8 during his two seasons with the Blues. This past season he went 12-9-4 and piloted the Blues through an early-season nine-game winning streak. Playing time was sparse later in the season as the Blues tried to overwhelm Brent Johnson's struggles with playing time. When the Blues acquired Chris Osgood at the trade deadline there was little time left for Brathwaite - in games, but more specifically in practice.
The Blues and Brathwaite agreed to a release in March.
Brathwaite was well-liked by his teammates, and many of the Blues, most notably Doug Weight, expressed their sorrow after the goalie's release.
Columbus defenseman Luke Richardson started bringing up Brathwaite's name around the Blue Jackets; the two are friends from Edmonton. On his drive north, Brathwaite stopped in Columbus, saw Richardson, talked with Jackets general manager-coach Doug MacLean and eventually signed to be Marc Denis' backup.
Denis played in 77 games last season and set an NHL record with 4,511 minutes played. The Jackets sought a backup who could chomp into some of that load. "He's a real good fit for us," MacLean said. "He wants to challenge for ice."
With Colorado's Patrick Roy retiring, Philadelphia's Roman Cechmanek being traded to Los Angeles, Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin reportedly available and other teams seeking to fill goalie voids, MacLean wanted to hire his backup quickly before the goalie carousel kicks in.
Brathwaite signed a one-year deal worth $500,000, less than half what he made as a Blue.
"I know one of the things they said in St. Louis was that I didn't push Brent enough; I'm excited about being with Marc Denis and hopefully I can go there and push him, push him the right way," Brathwaite said. "I wish things could have worked out in St. Louis. The guys - the guys were great. Leaving the guys was tough."
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Guest Message by DevFuse
Columbus Blue Jackets sign Brathwaite, what a bargain!
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