Martin Gerber was acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes via trade on June 18, 2004 to be the Canes starting goalie for the 2004-05 season. Because of the NHL lockout, that season never happened. He finally took the ice as the Carolina Hurricanes starter for opening night of the 2005-06 season when hockey returned. His initial stint in net was almost exactly two periods long. He was pulled with a sore hamstring and then missed the next two weeks. This of course set the stage for the bigger Carolina Hurricanes goalie story for the 2005-06 season.
Cam Ward story aside, Martin Gerber’s role in the magical 2005-06 season should not be underestimated. After an initial run by Ward filling in for him, Gerber retook the reins and was the workhorse during the regular season. With Gerber (mostly) in net, the Canes won their division and finished barely behind the Ottawa Senators for first place in the Eastern Conference. He finished an impressive 38-14-6 in 60 games played. In team history, Gerber’s 38 wins rank second only to Cam Ward’s 39 wins in the 2008-09 season (in eight more games).
Gerber struggled out of the gate in the 2006 playoffs and quickly handed the controls to Ward for his magical playoff run. Gerber did pick up a very important shutout win in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals to pull the Canes even at 2-2 versus Buffalo and set the stage for a best of three that the Canes ultimately won. But his biggest contribution which was in the regular season should not be overlooked. He set the Canes up to have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs (after a couple higher-seeded teams lost) which the team used successfully for both of the last two rounds of the playoffs. And maybe more significantly, he was a key part of the early season success that quickly replaced any doubt from a poor previous season with a confidence and swagger that was a key part of the team’s success that season.
With a young Cam Ward the incumbent in net after the playoffs, Martin Gerber quietly departed in free agency after the 2005-06 season, but in his one season in Raleigh, he played a key role in the greatest season in team history.