April 18, 2016

Jason Muzzatti

At one end of the ice stands Martin Brodeur, arguably the greatest goaltender of all time.

On the other end stands Jason Muzzatti, a goalie most people have never heard of.

This exact scenario more or less bookends Jason Muzzatti's career nicely.

Muzzatti was an intense goaltending prospect who starred at Michigan State University. A first round pick of the Calgary Flames (1988), Muzzatti only played two games with the Flames due to their strong goaltending depth.

Muzzatti ripened in the minor leagues for four years. He finally got a chance to be a NHL regular in 1995 when the Hartford Whalers claimed him off of waivers as the season began.

Though he was a battle-tested minor league veteran, he would find mixed results with the Whalers. In two seasons he would participate in 53 games, winning just 13.

Perhaps the highlight of his NHL career came on the night of April 4th, 1996. That night Muzzatti stopped all 40 shots against Marty Brodeur's New Jersey Devils in a 1-0 win - the only NHL shutout in Muzzatti's career.

The skies over Muzzatti's career would quickly darken. The next season he bounced around to the minor leagues before making brief appearances with the New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks.

Then in 1998-99 his career was in serious jeopardy as he had minor heart surgery, costing him most of the season. By the time he was cleared to play he was unable to find any takers.

Muzzatti headed to Europe to play for the better part of the next decade. After stops in Germany and Finland, he found a home in Italy for five seasons.

Muzzatti also gained his Italian citizenship, and since he had never represented Canada at any international tournament he was able to play for Italy with much success, winning three national championships plus to 2005 B-Pool World Championships.

Thanks to Muzzatti's goaltending Italy graduated to the A Pool at the World Hockey Championships in 2006 and 2007. Muzzatti was also Italy's starting goalie at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. He was able to help the home nation tie games against Germany and Switzerland.

But the highlight for Muzzatti personally came when he squared off against the NHL superstars from Canada, including Marty Brodeur in net.

Unlike ten years earlier, Muzzatti would not best Brodeur with a 1-0 win. Canada would win handily at 7-2.

Muzzatti returned to North America's minor leagues to play for the Flint Generals for one season before becoming a head coach - a bit of a rarity among the goaltending fraternity.

Despite earning a degree in finance Muzzatti has chosen to stay in hockey. He created his own goaltending instructional camp while volunteering as a goalie coach back at Michigan State.

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