When Howard made his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 28, 2005, after three years at the University of Maine, they were in the process of compiling a staggering 124 points and winning the Presidents’ Trophy with Chris Osgood and Manny Legace in net.
And with Dominik Hasek taking over as the Red Wings starting the next season (he would help Detroit win the Stanley Cup in 2008), the goaltender from Ogdensburg, N.Y., found his path to the No. 1 goaltending job seemingly blocked again. He would spend the majority of four seasons with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
By the start of training camp in 2009, the Red Wings promoted Howard to back up Osgood, but Osgood struggled. By the middle of the season, Howard had assumed the starting position. And he didn’t it let go.
Howard finished with 37 wins, 3,740 minutes played, a 2.26 GAA and a .924 save percentage in 63 games and placed second in the voting for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.
Howard was selected by the Red Wings in the second round (No. 64) of the 2003 NHL Draft following three standout college seasons. He went 47-23-10 at Maine and helped lead it to the NCAA Frozen Four as a sophomore.
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