There was a time when Tommy Salo was on the verge of joining the elite legion of the goaltenders.
That was early 2000s. He had apprenticed in the minor leagues and with the New York Islanders, demonstrating that his acrobatic albeit unorthodox style could be effective in the National Hockey League. After three seasons on Long Island he moved to Edmonton and became a work horse goalie, playing 70 games a year. He showed tremendous poise, quickness and athletic ability.
Then this happened.
Of course this happened at the 2002 Olympics. Salo was backstopping the strong Swedish team that employed the torpedo offense and blitzed Canada in the qualifying round. But in the first playoff game, where you lose and you go home, Sweden could not shake the pesky Belorussians. Then Salo let in Vladimir Kopat's shot from the neutral zone.
All of Sweden was disappointed obviously. Salo unfairly became the scapegoat. Swedish fans were not quick to forgive Salo. They had long forgotten that the native of Surahammar had led Sweden to the 1994 Olympic gold medal or the 1998 World Championship. Long forgotten was the fact that he was still an elite goaltender who just happened to get burned at pretty much the worst possible time.
It's funny how the perception of Salo's ability changed that day. He returned to Edmonton for a couple of seasons. He played inconsistently and battled some controversies but ultimately the Oilers were not that good. They sought to make changes. At the trading deadline in 2004 they move him to Colorado.
Salo's stay in Denver was short to say the least. He played 5 unsuccessful games and one more in the playoffs before leaving the NHL.
Salo returned to Sweden, playing a season with Modo and two with Frolunda before hanging up the pads once and for all in 2007.