Jul 22, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
For a first-round-pick turned journeyman backup, Al Montoya seems to be rather ambitious about his new gig with the Florida Panthers.
Then again, as the first Cuban-American in the NHL, it makes sense that his signing can help the team off the ice. He detailed that interesting opportunity to the Miami Herald.
“I was blessed with a gift and the Cuban people are a motivated bunch, a passionate bunch,” Montoya said. “I’m just lucky enough to where I have an arena to show off my American dream. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’ve been. Everyone can play hockey. Like I said, the Cuban people are very passionate. Once they figure out what the game is like, it’s tough to let go.”
This is about more than just spreading the game to a demographic group that might not be totally inclined toward the sport, though. Montoya wants to be a difference-maker when he’s on the ice, as well.
“The coach and the team knows what I’m capable of and when I’m called, I’m going out there to win games,” he said. “I’m not just there to give Roberto a night off, I’m there to help the team move forward. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think things are headed in the right direction. I haven’t seen my best yet.”
If nothing else, Montoya showed that he could be a difference-maker when called upon last season. While Ondrej Pavelec put up discouraging numbers once again as the Winnipeg Jets’ starter (22-26-7, .901 save percentage), Montoya managed a 13-8-3 record and a nice .920 save percentage. As reliable as Luongo has been as one of the NHL’s most consistent performers in net, the Panthers would likely jump at the chance to give their 29-year-old backup a decent amount of reps if he can replicate his 2013-14 numbers.
That’s especially true if he draws more fans into the building.
- Prust fined $5K for ‘baseless and demeaning’ Watson comments 16
- Prust apologizes for all the stuff he said about referee Watson 47
- Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’ 22
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 15
- Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead 52
- Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’ 65
- End of an era in New Jersey as Shero replaces Lamoriello as GM 26
- Once again, Rick Nash isn’t scoring in the playoffs 26
- Video: U.S. stays unbeaten at Worlds with win over defending champs Russia 9
- Andersen shuts out Flames as Ducks stay perfect in playoffs 6
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (83)
- Lightning’s Bishop silences Red Wings in hard fought Game 7 (81)
- Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings (78)
- New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead (76)