Injuries expose Canada's vulnerability in net

STEVE SIMMONSSUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

What if this were January 2010, instead of 2009: How much angst would there be over the state of Canadian goaltending this close to the Winter Olympics?

Martin Brodeur remains injured in New Jersey. Roberto Luongo has just come back and hasn't been sharp in Vancouver. Carey Price is hurting, although he's playing in tonight's all-star game in Montreal. And after that, what?

Marc-Andre Fleury is having a terrible season in Pittsburgh. Same with Marty Turco in Dallas. Cam Ward has been up and down in Carolina.

You could argue the best Canadian goaltenders in the National Hockey League so far this season have been Manny Fernandez in Boston and rookie Steve Mason in Columbus.

Would anyone be comfortable with an Olympic team with either of them starting?

The assumption remains that Brodeur and Luongo will be the goaltenders for Team Canada, with Price, likely as the third netminder. But with the preponderance of goalie injuries -- and with butterfly goaltenders the incidents are becoming more frequent -- it's not exactly a comfortable feeling.

Not when you consider that Henrik Lundqvist may be in goal for Sweden, Miikka Kiprusoff could be manning the nets for Finland and Tim Thomas for the United States, Evgeny Nabokov for Russia and Tomas Vokoun for the Czechs -- the quality of world goaltenders is that high.

Canada needs a healthy Luongo or a healthy Brodeur to compete.

Good thing there still is a year to go to Vancouver.

This and that

Brian Burke may not want to hear this, but the fighting walls are closing in on him. The fact that an American Hockey League player was taken off the ice on a stretcher Friday night after convulsing after a fight will not help the pro-fighting, status-quo lobbyists. It will only make for more discussion and more concern at the NHL level ... The euphoria over the possible drafting of John Tavares, and what he could do for an NHL team, is overblown. Think about this: Rick Nash and Jay Bouwmeester were the best two players drafted into the NHL in 2002. Six seasons later, neither has been in a playoff game ... Department of Dumb: Suspending Nicklas Lidstrom, who has played hurt, been to a million all-star games, and never has taken a shift off in his spectacular career, for not playing in today's all-star game. This is so typical of Gary Bettman: He'll protect his bankrupt owners but toss the best of his players under the bus ... This Ron Wilson "we won, they lost" attitude in public will last only as long as his dressing room doesn't erupt against him. There is much to like about Wilson -- and who wouldn't want a boss that rewards hard work and accomplishment? -- but lately, he's tripping over himself in public.

Here and there

Bart Andrus gave a good press conference but is making the mistake too many American coaches make coming to the CFL: Hiring American buddies with next to no CFL experience as assistants. He is setting himself up for failure ... If you do the math, the Jermaine O'Neal for T.J. Ford and extras trade helped neither team ... What was the last great decision Bryan Colangelo or Bryan Murray made? ... Bill Parcells is fond of saying you are what your record says you are. Well, Jay Triano's record says he's 9-19 as Raptors head coach (Sam Mitchell was fired at 8-9), but the development of lost causes Andrea Bargnani and Joey Graham indicates that while he may not be winning, he is teaching ... Chris Bosh is the only prominent player from the U.S. Olympic basketball team to be playing for a sub .400 team. Does that say anything about him? ... How tough is it to get a hockey scholarship at a top U.S. college? Well, consider this: The top 10 ranked teams in the NCAA have only 15 Ontario players of the 250 or so on their rosters.

Scene and heard

When Doug Gilmour's jersey is honoured at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, his Kingston Frontenacs players will be in attendance. But he had nothing to do with getting them tickets. Turns out, Mike Zigomanis of the Penguins, as a goodwill gesture to his former junior team and knowing nothing of the Gilmour ceremony, bought 34 tickets for the Fronts players to watch the Pens play. Now they get to see Zigomanis play and watch their coach honoured on the same night ... Why do we need a Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame when we already have a Canadian Sports Hall of Fame that inducts Olympians? The more Halls there are, the less meaningful they become ... Never mind the NHL all-star game. Why not suspend all baseball players who have refused to take part in the World Baseball Classic? By the way, a tip of the hat to those who priced tickets for the games at the Rogers Centre. Very reasonable. Very accessible.

And another thing

Donny (Doc) Lyons, the loudest, most opinionated, most inflexible and maybe most interesting sports fan in Toronto, has lost his fight with cancer. The owner of the popular House of Chan and longtime coach will be missed by all who have sparred with him and been charmed by him. He was a one-of-a-kind character in a city of too few ... U.S. college football is dumb in electing a champion. If the NFL worked that way, Tennessee would be playing the Giants in the Super Bowl ... Why bother to have a four-hour television show? Why not cut out the speeches and give Mickey Rourke the Oscar for best actor right now for his portrayal of a broken-down grappler -- can you say Jake (The Snake) Roberts? -- in The Wrestler? ... Boo hoo: Overpaid millionaire NHL players have to take a 13.5% paycut in the first half of the season and some have the nerve to squawk about it. Tell that to the autoworkers in Oshawa or the half-million Americans who lost their jobs in December ... Happy Birthday to the great Ernie Harwell (91), Condredge Holloway (55), Chris Chelios (47) and Milt Stegall (39) ... And hey, whatever became of Michel Petit?


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