Howard reiterates his comfort with leaving Red Wings
Jimmy Howard: "Someone is going to have to tell me I can't play anymore."
After Jimmy Howard’s disastrous 1919-20 season and his impending unrestricted free agency just after the playoffs end, most figured he had played his last game as a Red Wing.
Howard has confirmed those suspicions.
The 36-year-old goalie said he will “probably not” remain in Detroit. As he told Sportsnet, "Someone is going to have to tell me I can't play anymore."
In his 14th season with the Red Wings, Howard was 2-23-2 with a career-worst 4.20 goals-against average and .882 save percentage in 27 starts as Detroit had by far the worst record in the NHL (17-49-5).
The two wins are tied for the second fewest in a season among goalies who played at least 25 games in NHL history. The fewest are Michel Belhumeur’s 0-24-3 with the Washington Capitals in 1974-75.
The Red Wings have no plans to attempt to retain Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
"I want to keep playing," Howard told the Detroit News this summer. "This year left such a bitter taste in my mouth. I want to go out there and show people I can still play in this league. I know I'm capable.
"Honestly, there's so much up in the air. But at the same time, I've been around this game long enough to realize there comes a time when you have to separate ties. If that's the way it'll have to go, I've mentally prepared for that. My wife and I have talked about it a little bit, and if that's going to be the case, it'll have to be the case."
Howard did not win a game after Oct. 29, going 0-18-2 in his final 20 starts before the season was paused on March 12 due to COVID-19. It is the second longest streak without a win since the shootout was implemented in 2005-06; Cory Schneider was winless in 22 straight starts (0-17-4) for the New Jersey Devils from Dec. 29, 2017, to Feb. 14, 2019.
"I personally don't believe I represent those (statistics), but I was a big part of the program," Howard said.
Selected by Detroit in the second round (No. 64) of the 2003 NHL Draft, Howard is 246-196-70 with a 2.62 GAA, .912 save percentage and 24 shutouts in 543 regular-season games (523 starts). In 48 playoff games (47 starts), he was 21-26 with a 2.58 GAA, .918 save percentage and three shutouts. He is third in Red Wings history in wins and fourth in save percentage.
"I don't think this extra time off is necessarily a bad thing for me," Howard said. "I can recharge and refocus and go into next year with the confidence of being able to play. … If I could continue to play for another year or two, I'd be very content to walk away."