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Wrap up day in Leafland; talking Leaf goalies and a Podcast link

If nothing else, locker-room clean-out day always delivers the usual: a lot of brave words and more than a dollop of hope about the future.

Maybe I was most pleased to hear Wilson suggest, in no uncertain terms, that he spoke with Jonas Gustavsson to tell him (at their season-end exit meeting) that he believed in him and expected him to fight for the top job at training camp.

As much as we have (almost?) all fallen in love with what young James Reimer brought to the team, there is nothing wrong with competition.  And I remain of the belief that "The Monster" can play.

Goalies are, to say the least, not your ordinary guys.  Some are pretty fragile, understandably so given the nature of their rather demanding job.  Jacques Plante, (click on his name to read about him a bit more) who I’ve written about many times here and played for the Leafs in the early 1970s, was as talented as anyone as a goalie but not exactly your ordinary “jock”.  He was, well,  high-strung, quirky, idiosyncratic—lots of traits apply…)

Some, like Patrick Roy, are/were confident to the point of arrogance.  Others look nervous as anything as they skate around the rink after every stoppage in play but then perform brilliantly.  Then there are the Ken Drydens…guys who look like they are taking a nap in between face-offs, like they haven't got a worry in the world.  Grant Fuhr was like that, too.

Sometimes goalies start their careers on fire (Steve Penney in Montreal, who was Reimer's age when he had a nice playoff in 1984, Mike Moffat in Boston, Jim Carey in Washington, et al) and while solid NHL’ers, had either short careers or at least careers that didn’t quite fulfill that early promise.

Others (see Johnny Bower, and more recently, Dwayne Roloson) spent forever in the minors yet still have long and marvelous NHL careers.

Still others have back and forth careers.  Outstanding at times, less than scintillating at others.  But they survive.

Few guys are consistently outstanding, or never take a step back.  Most goalies have really hot streaks and then cool off.  So while we are high on Reimer now, and rightly so, I don’t think we should kick Gustavsson to the curb just yet, and not just because he has one more year guaranteed on his contract.

Carey Price has gone from hero to bum and back already a couple of times in Montreal, and what is he, 24?

We need patience, patience.  I’m not even sure we have to sign the veteran goalie that everyone thinks we need, but then again, I’m not the GM, so I don’t really have to worry about making that call.  If we bring one in for the right price, sure, I guess.  But my sense is Reimer and Gustavsson can do the job.  They are young, but they're not 20.

I just want Reimer and Gustavsson to feel…not entitled (there’s that word) but at least secure and comfortable that they are important pieces going forward.


The other obvious bit of news from clean-up day is that a number of Leafs will be playing in the World Championships- for Canada or other countries.

We know for sure that Phaneuf, Schenn and MacArthur are going.  Holzer and Mueller from the Marlies will play for Germany.  Kessel has declined but others should get the nod, as  Mike Brown and Mike Komisarek appear to be on the radar screen of U.S. officials (Christian Hanson got the call last year).  I'm assuming Grabovski with play for Belarus.  Kulemin should carry the flag for Russia. (Purely speculating, but we'll see if Gunnarsson gets the call for Sweden.  Hopefully he will.  Gustavsson has played for his country before; perhaps if he's healthy he will be asked.  I'd love to see him get some games in before the long off-season, since he played so sparingly as the NHL season went on.)

Burke is a big fan of guys taking advantage of these opportunities, and so am I.  Ken Hitchcock will coach Team Canada and he is a very well-prepared guy, so the team should be competitive.  But regardless of what country they represent, it’s usually a great experience for players to compete against some of the best in the World in a different format, with different sized-rinks, officials, etc.

It’s an opportunity for a number of Leafs to earn a medal, and put on a nicer bow to tie up the loose ends of what was a disappointing season- if one with that above-mentioned hopeful ending


It was nice to be invited by Darren Yourk, the editor of The Globe & Mail sports online ( ) and also the host of the Globe’s regular “Hockey Roundtable” to take part in the final Globe/Maple Leaf podcast of the season.  Globe and Leaf/hockey writer James Mirtle sits in, along with Julian Sanchez from the ever-popular Pension Plan Puppets site and myself.

We cover a pretty wide range of topics about the season past, while also looking ahead to the summer and the 2011-’12 season.  (The second part of the broadcast may have run into technical difficulties I'm told, but part I, at least, is available.)

You can listen by following the link at:


  1. I agree with you completely re: Gustavsson, Michael. Maybe even more so. To trade him now would be ultra foolish- when you watch video of what he's capable of, there's a chance his upside is actually higher than Reimer's- we just haven't seen it yet. I would truly detest it if he became Tuukka Rask, 2.0.

  2. And, from what I hear, Rynnas or Scrivens might also show well next year. I'm another in the "we-don't need-a-vet goalie" camp. We need a dependable goalie, no matter what his age is!