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Former Duck Jean-Sebastien Giguere making best of imperfect situation

January 11, 2011 |  7:23 pm

Having a Canadian team visit Staples Center always creates a buzz because so many former Canadian residents come out to cheer their old favorites. Also, there’s always a large media contingent and sense of excitement, which players seem to enjoy.

Monday’s visit by the Toronto Maple Leafs provided the bonus of a visit from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the former Ducks goaltender who is one of the classiest people in this league--and any other.

Giguere, who became one of the few players voted the playoff MVP on a losing team after the Ducks’ seven-game loss to New Jersey in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals and led the Ducks to the Cup in 2007, was traded to Toronto last Jan. 31. He had lost the starting job to Jonas Hiller — who was added to the NHL All-Star team Monday — and his four-year, $24-million contract made him too expensive to be a backup.

He waived his no-trade clause to go to Toronto, where he was reunited with his former goalie coach, Francois Allaire, and former general manager, Brian Burke.

Things haven’t worked out exactly as planned this season for Giguere, whose contract expires July 1. Recurring groin problems have limited him to only 18 games, in which he has compiled a 2.80 goals-against average and .894 save percentage. And the emergence of youngster James Reimer — who was in goal for the Leafs’ 3-2 victory over the Kings on Monday — means Giguere likely won’t be back with the team next season.

But he is facing the circumstances with his usual good humor and optimism.

“I’m doing good personally. My family is great and I’m quite enjoying myself in Toronto,” Giguere said of his wife and two young sons.  “It’s been a good change for me but I’ve got an injury that keeps coming back. It’s been a bit of a pain but there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

He said he hopes to return Thursday at Phoenix. No matter where he goes he still keeps an eye on the Ducks and is happy for Hiller.

“I keep track of them from far and see how they’re doing,” he said. “I’m not surprised they’re doing well. They have a good team and obviously offensively they can do some damage. And when Jonas plays well he can make any team win. So it’s good to see that.”

Helene Elliott