It’s hard to believe, but Jimmy Howard has been in the Detroit Red Wings organization since 2005 and has been the full-time starter since 2009.
The 30-year-old goalie stopped by Ferrall on the Bench on Tuesday to discuss his journey from Ogdensburg, New York, to the University of Maine to the Red Wings.
“My dad was the high school coach (where I grew up), so I was a rink rat at an early age – just constantly going to the rink with him and hanging out,” Howard explained. “Things just sort of transpired from there. He thought I had a lot of talent so he stopped coaching and he started helping out with driving me around the country (for training and games). One day, my phone rang from the U.S. Hockey Development Program in Ann Arbor . . . and that’s when everything just sort of snowballed from there. That’s when I started to realize this dream of mine could eventually become a reality.”
Howard now plays for the Red Wings, a team that has won 11 Stanley Cups, most recently in 2008.
“I love it,” Howard said. “I love the city of Detroit. I think it’s a great fit for me. There’s a lot of hard-working people in this city, and that’s how I sort of see myself – as a blue-collar guy that just brings his hard hat and lunch pail to work every single day. I thoroughly enjoy the city. There are some big shoes to fill, but at the same time, it’s a great honor to be able to play for an Original Six team.”
Howard also enjoys playing for head coach Mike Babcock, even if Babcock is a little, well, intense.
“I like him,” Howard said. “I like the intensity. He holds us very accountable, which is good. With him being there and constantly being as intense an individual as he is, I think it’s good for us all.”
The Red Wings are hoping to improve on last season, when they went 39-28-15 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, 4-1, to the Boston Bruins.
Detroit is 1-1 this year, with a 2-1 win over Boston and a 3-2 loss to Anaheim. The Red Wings host Boston (1-3) again on Wednesday.
Howard has been very good throughout this career, posting a .916 save percentage and allowing 2.41 goals per game. He’s also reached a point where he’s not in awe of his teammates – for the most part.
“I (was in awe) when I first came to the organization, that’s for sure,” he said. “Having (Steve) Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Brendan Shanahan – I think I’ve just gotten used to being around the guys. They’re my friends, but it’s still a joy to watch having the great seat that I have night-in and night-out.”