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Bob Duff, Windsor Star
Thursday, December 07, 2006

Last time he came to Detroit, Manny Legace left Red Wings fans with a pounding headache, as he backstopped the lowly St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 shootout victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Come to think of it, considering how the playoffs turned out for the Wings last spring, Legace can probably claim responsibility for rash of migraines within the team's front office and among its vast following.

This time, though, he's the one with the headache, a soreness that will keep Legace away from Detroit when the Blues meet the Wings at JLA tonight.

Early in practice Wednesday, Legace took a direct hit to the noggin from a puck shot by defenceman Dennis Wideman and according to St. Louis team sources, was out cold for some 30 seconds.

He was sent to hospital and didn't travel with the team to Detroit.

The blow couldn't come at a worse time for the Blues.

Already mired with the worst record in the National Hockey League at the bottom of the Central Division at 7-16-3, last week the Blues lost goalie Curtis Sanford for 6-8 weeks after he pulled a groin in a Friday game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues are in the midst of a stretch of 10 games in 18 days and Blues coach Mike Kitchen was counting on Legace picking up the ball and running with it.

Instead, former Plymouth Whaler Jason Bacashihua has gone from minor-leaguer to the Blues' No. 1 goalie in the span of six days. Rookie Marek Schwarz, the Blues' top pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft, will back up Bacashihua.

Between them, they have 19 games of NHL experience.

St. Louis may be one injury away from strapping the pads back on president of hockey operations John Davidson, who was the club's top draft pick back in 1973.

We know what you're thinking, Wings fans.

Where was that errant shot last April, when the Wings could have really used it?

In the span of six playoff games last spring, Legace turned his coming-out party into a frighteningly-moribund wake. After a career year that saw him rank among the NHL leaders in wins (37), shutouts (seven) and goals-against average (2.19), Legace's solid season dissolved into a puddle off seething uncertainty.

In a town where they've feasted on playoff goaltenders, Legace dug his own grave every time he opened his mouth and spoke.

"The only way I'll be able to stay in Detroit is if we win the Stanley Cup," Legace announced on the eve of the Wings' first-round playoff series with the Edmonton Oilers.

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