One of the exasperating aspects of the 2013-’14 Leaf season for me has been the goaltending situation. I know I am not a majority voice on this one, but it has been clear to me from the get go that this would be an un-workable situation with Bernier and Reimer. Though they have both played some lights out hockey this season, management's obvious favouring of Bernier has been patently clear from the get-go and that has made the so-called competition a fraud. And I believe (can't prove it: I just believe it is the case) these situations tend to be a drain on team chemistry. So the benefit a team gets from goalies playing well is mitigated by having unhappy players looking over their shoulders. And when that is the case, players are usually, over time, not going to perform as well as they would when they feel secure and confident and know the organization supports them fully.
The “idea” is great—two young goalies who are capable players battling it out for playing time. On the surface, it sounds like it should work like a charm.
In reality, however, these situations—as with NFL quarterback controversies—inevitably end up in a mess.
While Bernier/Reimer debate was the backdrop for the show, the latest VLM podcast actually harkens back to, for me, a much more pleasant time in Leaf history. It was a time when two goalies shared the crease in an amicable and healthy environment. The year was 1970-’71 and the goalies were Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent. (They actually played together in Toronto for two years, though only one full season.) Their ‘competition’ worked but it was a very different situation than the current Maple Leaf scenario. (That's a neat old Dan Baliotti photo of Plante during that '70-'71 season with the Leafs. By the way, that was a new-look uniform for the Leafs at the time, very different from what had been their classic uniform for many years prior.)
That was a wonderful Leaf team, with two outstanding netminders, and I try to bring that to life in today’s episode…
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