August 12, 2011

Jimmy Waite

Jimmy Waite will always be remembered for his time with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

In 1987 he was part of that infamous team that was kicked out for brawling with the Soviets. But in 1988 he played a major role in Canada knocking off the Russians to win gold. He was named as the tournament's top goaltender, shutting down the high flying Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov.

It was the highlight of a brilliant junior hockey career that had him rated as a top NHL goaltending prospect. Although there was one wise scout in The Hockey News Draft Preview who dared to say he would not make the cut in the NHL.

He called it a weak year for goaltenders, with Rick Tabaracci and Jeff Hackett as the top goalies. But the Chicago Blackhawks disagreed, drafted Waite 8th overall in 1987. By the time he was ready for the NHL the Hawks already boasted Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek in net. Waite was so highly regarded that the Hawks moved Hasek out of town.

The older Hasek was still unproven in the NHL, but of course would blossom into one of the NHL's all time greats in Buffalo. Waite never did find a home in the NHL.

Waite struggled mightily in Chicago. In his first season he played in 11 games, posting a disastrous 0-7-1 record with a 5.22 GAA. He would spend much of the rest of the decade jumping between the Hawks and their farm team, coming up for sporadic games. He seemed to have cemented the backup job in 1991-92 and 1992-93, playing in a total of 37 contests, but it did not last. It certainly did not help that Ed Belfour was so good and such a workhorse.

Waite would go on to cups of coffee in San Jose and Phoenix before disappearing to Germany for decade.

All told, Jimmy Waite played in 106 NHL games, winning 28, losing 41 and tying 12. He had 4 shutouts.

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