Theodore to Ribeiro: 'He told me I'd like it here'

Theodore to Ribeiro: 'He told me I'd like it here'
February 12, 2013, 11:30 am
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Capitals center Mike Ribeiro and Florida Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore spent parts of six seasons together with the Montreal Canadiens.

They share the same agent and for at least a few years in Montreal, they shared the same hotel rooms.

Although Theodore is expected to back up Scott Clemmenson tonight in Sunrise, Fla., the two former teammates will share a few words during warmups when the Capitals visit the Panthers for the second time in four nights.

“We liked to hang out when we were in Montreal,” said Ribeiro, who turned 33 on Sunday. “We kept in touch and when I got traded here he told me I’d like it here.”

Theodore, 36, spent two seasons as the No. 1 goalie for the Capitals, going 62-24-12 during the Caps’ high-flying days from 2008-10.

But when Theodore struggled in the playoffs, Bruce Boudreau was quick with the hook, allowing him just two appearances in each of his playoff runs with the Caps. Theodore allowed 11 goals in those four games.

Ribeiro said he’s always believed Theodore was better in the clutch than many give him credit for, saying he’s a “quick” and “mentally strong” goalie who learned a lot from former Canadiens goaltending coach Rollie Melanson.

“He delivered in Montreal,” Ribeiro recalled, noting the Canadiens’ back-to-back runs to the conference semifinals in 2002 and 2004. “But you cannot do it all by yourself.

“He came here [to Washington] for a bit and played well, and you guys had a habit of pulling goalies after a bad game in the playoffs and he had to regroup.”

Despite his regular season success with the Capitals, Theodore found no interest in him in the summer of 2010 and did not sign an NHL contract until the start of the following season when Minnesota Wild backup Jeff Harding was injured.

“I'm not going to lie; I didn't have an offer until Minnesota called,'' Theodore recently told the Miami Herald. “I'm real thankful to them. Who knows? If they don't call, maybe I'm still sitting out.''

After going 15-11-3 in one season of backup duty in Minnesota, Theodore signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Panthers in the summer of 2011. And in parts of two seasons, he’s gone 26-21-11, including 4-5-0 this season.

“I think he’s loving it down there,” Ribeiro said. “He’s 36 now, almost at the end of his career. I guess Florida’s not a bad place if you’re close to retiring. I think he loves it and a lot of French people go down there in the winter. It’s a great place to finish a career.”