Steve Passmore came off the ice Friday morning and quit.
That's no real news because the free-spirited goalie, who has gone from backup to potential playoff starter, says he's quitting just about every day.
Most goalies are off-limits on game day when they are starting. But Friday morning after practice, Passmore was telling stories about minor-league teammates. He then left American Airlines Center like a man without a care in the world.
Jocelyn Thibault, formerly the undisputed No. 1 goalie who is now essentially auditioning to be the playoff starter, sat at his locker after his workout and said, "I don't know what's going on right now."
Friday night's 3-1 loss to Dallas put a crimp in the Hawks' hopes to open the playoffs at home, leaving them fifth in the Western Conference. They can finish as high as fourth or as low as eighth.
The loss also did little to shed light on a situation that will play a large role in what kind of success the Hawks have in the playoffs. Jere Lehtinen's third-period goal off Passmore plus his empty-netter were the difference for a Dallas team that had been eliminated from playoff contention a night earlier.
"I feel I'm ready to play," Thibault said Friday morning. "I'm not going anywhere. If they want to play me, I'm sitting right here. If they don't want to play me, I'll still be here."
What has made this an issue has been the records of the two. Thibault is just 3-8-2 in his last 12 games, while Passmore is 8-3-2.
"I've said all year if one guy gets on a little bit of a roll, he's going to get the opportunity to play," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "His teammates see who is on a roll."
Lately that has been Passmore, and if he starts Game 1 of the playoffs, Thibault will be supportive if not happy.
"It's too important a time right now to complain," Thibault said. "If they need me, I'll be here."
Sutter has been playing his goalie situation close to the vest, not telling either who will play until the morning of the game.
"[Thibault] did one heck of a job for a great part of the year," Sutter said. "Once in a while I expect the other guy to get hot. That's what he's paid to do."
Whatever Sutter decides, he expects the other to be the supportive teammateand if that starter is Passmore, that's exactly what Thibault plans to be.
"I'm not going to sit here and be miserable and take the spirit away from the guys or have a bad attitude in the dressing room," Thibault said. "If I don't start I'll be the same guy and grab the pompoms."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times