Remember Cam Ward? Now's the time to get to know your backups
That club is long and littered with the greatest names in the history of the game, so, needless to say, the professional lives of Giguere and Ward changed through the designation they received for their championship-quality play.
Being a Stanley Cup winner doesn't come with guarantees of future success, or even that the team that won it all won't find a masked man it likes better in a season or two. Or less.
But it's a label that sticks to a goalie and never, ever peels off.
What's interesting, of course, is neither Giguere nor Ward was in goal for his team at the beginning of its playoff run.
Giguere, you may recall, faced a personal challenge last spring when his son, Maxime Olivier, was born April 4 with a deformed right eye and related complications. When the playoffs began, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle opted to keep Giguere on the bench, starting Bryzgalov for the first four games against the Minnesota Wild.
In Game 4, the Wild's only win of the series, Giguere relieved Bryzgalov in the final period, and then assumed his starter's role again the rest of the way as the Ducks brought the Cup to California for the first time.
Ward's story, meanwhile, was more of a pure hockey tale. He played only once in the final two weeks of the 2005-06 season, posting relatively unimpressive numbers in 28 appearances while Martin Gerber stood out as the Hurricanes' No. 1 puck stopper.
When the playoffs began, however, the Canes lost Games 1 and 2 to the Montreal Canadiens, and coach Peter Laviolette, in desperation, turned to Ward for Game 3. He won that start, and in mid-June, was in goal when the Hurricanes outlasted the Edmonton Oilers in seven games to win the Cup.
Edmonton, meanwhile, provided its own cautionary tale on the unexpected use of backup goalies. In the finals against Carolina, the Oilers were forced to use three goalies -- Dwayne Roloson, Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin -- after Roloson was injured in the series opener.
If there's a moral to these stories, it may be only that while playoff-bound clubs may believe they have an undisputed No. 1 goalie heading down the stretch, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll have -- or want -- that netminder at their disposal during the joust for the Cup.
Right now, 15 of 18 teams that either own a playoff berth, or still have a serious shot at one, appear to have a designated starter, and seven of those teams have a starter who will play 65 or more games, leaving his understudy rusty and underused.
Of the other three teams, Detroit is sharing the job between Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood, Ottawa is still sorting things out between Gerber and Ray Emery, and Pittsburgh might be hoping Marc-Andre Fleury will now take the ball and run with it but may still need to turn to midseason hero Conklin.
Otherwise, 15 playoff hopefuls have backups whom you may or may not know well, ranging from hardened veterans to retreads to fuzzy-cheeked kids.
Now's the time to get to know 'em. To quote John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait," and the wait could end quickly for any of them if circumstances arrive when the postseason begins in April.
So who are today's backups who could become tomorrow's go-to goalies?
They once were stars
The late arrivals
Damien Cox, a columnist for The Toronto Star, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He is the author of "Brodeur: Beyond The Crease" and "'67: The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire."
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Blackhawks' Mikita has dementia, family says
- Kane, Sharp lead dominant win over Ducks
- Canucks win in Miller's 1st game vs. Buffalo
- Pens spoil Schneider's 41 saves with OT win