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SIMMONS: Gamble on Mrazek paying no dividends for Maple Leafs

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The Maple Leafs are paying now — and may be paying later — for the silly attain they made on signing Petr Mrazek for 3 years and $11.4 million within the low season.

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Actually, they need to have recognized higher. They need to have accomplished extra homework on the goaltender. They need to have understood why Carolina didn’t need him again, which was for related causes the Leafs soured on Frederik Andersen.

Behind closed doorways, Leafs administration complained about Andersen’s well being, about his willingness to play and incapability to battle via accidents, perceived or in any other case.

That lack of dependability in administration’s thoughts, to not point out the {dollars} concerned, ended Andersen’s time in Toronto. The identical lack of dependability ended Mrazek’s time with the Hurricanes.

Mrazek is just not not like a whole lot of modern-day athletes. He must be virtually good bodily to have the ability to play. He isn’t delicate, however he’s near that. That was the guide on him in Carolina. He’s not a Grant Fuhr, who would pop his shoulder out and in every day, understanding he had to do this simply to have the ability to play the next day.

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Professional athletes are by no means mushy. However there’s a variety of gamers right this moment. Some will play harm. Others, foolishly, will play injured. Some will endure.

By a protracted season, nearly all people is hurting ultimately. It’s totally different, actually, for goaltenders, who can’t lose something off their fastballs, in each actuality and of their minds. A tiny motion, a half-step slower, and a save they’d usually make turns right into a purpose. The chances are that tight.

And a goalie has to really feel and consider he’s prepared and in a position and wholesome sufficient to play with a view to succeed.

Mrazek broke his thumb final season whereas enjoying for the Hurricanes. The damage was considered a six-week circumstance as others on the Hurricanes had been equally injured earlier than. Mrazek was out 10 weeks as a substitute of six.

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He has began two video games for the Leafs, completed one, been injured throughout or after each of them.

The accidents are reliable. The odd side of his second begin is that it actually appeared to come back too quickly, which fits towards the normal pondering on Mrazek.

And now he’s out long-term with a groin damage — the scourge of the trendy goalie who drops too simply to his knees — and for the way lengthy no person actually is aware of.

It is a important drawback for basic supervisor Kyle Dubas, whose prowess in touchdown goalkeepers through the years has been suspect. He did commerce for Jack Campbell, which has turned out splendidly properly, however past that there are questions on Dubas’ thought course of on goalies.

He was satisfied, after profitable an AHL championship with the Marlies, that Garret Sparks was an NHL goalie. It didn’t take lengthy for that to unravel. However that misplaced religion in Sparks value the Leafs Curtis McElhinney on waivers. McElhinney had been near good the earlier season with an 11-5-1 report to associate with sterling numerical statistics.

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The Sparks failure led to the primary of a number of Michael Hutchinson acquisitions. Hutchinson is just like the ball participant who can hit in triple-A however simply can’t take care of the major-league breaking balls when he’s referred to as up. He’s a terrific man. He’s not a terrific goaltender nor somebody the Leafs ought to really feel comfy with of their No. 3 place.

However the Leafs are so uncomfortable with the selection that they’re truly going to rotate fellow minor-leaguers Joseph Woll and Erik Kallgren in some type of platoon system for the backup goalies. An excellent scenario this isn’t.

In order that they gambled that Mrazek would, or might, keep wholesome and that didn’t final a begin. They usually gambled that they may get away with Hutchinson and others as their No. 3 goalie and now they’re most likely scouring the market and seeing if they’ll afford something, or anybody, who may be accessible.

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That is the problem in right this moment’s salary-cap world: It’s like attempting to purchase a home in Toronto. It’s important to discover cash you don’t must attempt to make it occur.

The Leafs are lucky with their schedule. They’ve 10 video games left in November, simply two of them on the tail finish of back-to-back nights, when usually the backup goaltender would begin. They’ve 13 video games in December, with simply two extra back-to-back units. They can provide Campbell some breathers alongside the best way and scale back his apply load.

Mrazek wasn’t signed to be a backup goaltender and it wasn’t meant for Jack Campbell to play 65 video games or extra. He has by no means accomplished something like that in his wandering profession and, whereas many contend he gained’t maintain up, how have you learnt? He’s by no means been a beginning goalie earlier than. That is all new. Possibly he can maintain up. That wasn’t the intention, although.

This was arrange as a cut up circumstance between Campbell and Mrazek, a primary amongst equals competitors of kinds. Possibly it will wind up 60-40, with the higher of the 2 netminders enjoying 50 video games, the opposite one beginning 32.

Mrazek gained’t probably be again and able to play till the brand new 12 months. The Leafs have one NHL goalie and one NHL goalie injured.

That’s one wholesome goalie who issues. As of late, you want three.

ssimmons@postmedia.com
twitter.com/simmonssteve

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