Jose Theodore has played in more than 52 games in a single season before (five times) and has won a playoff series (four times, in fact). Jose Theodore has won a Hart Trophy and a Vezina Trophy. Jose Theodore has scored a goal, failed a drug test, and probably nailed Paris Hilton.
But as the Jose Theodore deal isn't as much about the past as it is about the future, let's focus on that.
Rather than commit huge dollars and years to a goalie who has never played a full season as a number one netminder and who missed time over the past three campaigns with a groin injury (five games in December of 2007), back spasms (one game this past March), a knee injury (18 games in 2005), and a season-ending hamstring injury (twenty games in 2007), the Caps went with Plan B - a short-term deal with the second-best goalie on the free agent market.
Best case scenario? Theodore plays well, and when his deal is up Simeon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth is ready to take over the starting spot, giving the Caps a cheap, young netminder while they worry about re-signing RFA's Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Worst case scenario? Theodore is awful, and the team either addresses the problem via trade at some point along the way, or the parties part ways after two years, leaving the team in search of a goalie and having high-profile RFAs to sign... not unlike the position in which they found themselves at noon yesterday.
But let's not sugarcoat things - Jose Theodore is an average goaltender with the ability to get scorching hot or fairly putrid for decent periods of time (though the former stretches outnumber the latter). He has a 2.96 goals against average and an .895 save percentage since the lockout (2.44/.910 this past season), but had a 21-13-2 record, a 2.24 GAA and a .919 save percentage in his last 37 starts of 2007-08 [Sidenote: Le fantastique Cristobal Huet was 25-8-4 with a 2.35 GAA and a .917 save percentage in his last 37 starts of the regular season. Sidenote Sidenote: If you're not already reading The Red Skate, who goes into more detail on the Theodore/Huet comparison, you need to be doing so.]
Clearly Huet is a better goaltender than Theodore (or so we're told), but look at it this way - the Caps went 23-13-7 (a 98-point pace) from the day Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench until Cristobal Huet was acquired. Over that span, their number one goalie went 17-9-6 with a 3.02 GAA and a .886 save percentage. Does anyone doubt that Jose Theodore can do at least that well? I sure don't. If he can go the entire season without giving up more than three goals in back-to-back starts - a feat he accomplished last year - he's going to win an awful lot of games, which, as I recall someone mentioning not long ago, is all that really matters (and don't give me that "Quennville's defensive system" crap - the Caps gave up 0.2 more shots per game over the entire season than Colorado did
Bottom line: if you were of the belief that Cristobal Huet was the kind of goalie that could take a team all the way, you're probably inconsolable today. But for the rest of us, the reality is that provided that everything else comes together over the next few days/weeks/months, there's no reason to believe the Caps won't be perfectly fine in both the short- and long-term. And hey, at least they didn't sign Ray Emery, right?