Too early to pull chute on Gerber

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

It is one of the foundations of our justice system that everyone is entitled to a good defence, even in the face of weighty evidence against them.

So it is with Senators goaltender Martin Gerber in his quest to be the starter over second-year man Ray Emery.

That and the fact a "Point-Counterpoint" argument wouldn't be much of a "Point-Counterpoint" argument if all you had was the "Point," right?

There are $11.1 million worth of reasons why Gerber should get the chance to be the starter for the Senators.

A weak argument in the eyes of some, but that is the grim financial reality of professional sports.

The guy who pulls down the big jack is always going to get more benefit of the doubt, get a little more time, be given more chances to work his way towards his "A" game than his cheaper, currently more proficient understudy.

Fair? Not really. But that's the way it is.

That's why Gerber got the start in the Senators' opener over Emery, though Emery had the better training camp, in my mind, at least.

Gerber, because of his veteran status (that's iffy, too, given he had only 114 games of NHL experience going into this season) was anointed the starter by this team's administration and it's a little early to pull the chute on him.

FREE-AGENT SIGNING

The 32-year-old Gerber was John Muckler's big free-agent signing in the off-season and the general manager isn't going to make that kind of investment without giving the player a chance to prove he is worthy of it.

Now, in general terms, that might make the relationship between a coach and a GM a little frosty since the coach is interested in putting the guy

in net who is going to give him the best chance to win that night.

Not that the investment Muckler has made in him is the only reason Gerber should get the net.

Gerber was the sole reason why the Senators have one of their two wins this season, turning in an outstanding effort in the opening-night win over the Leafs in Toronto.

He was awful on the first goal of the home opener against the Leafs the next night, but there would be a lot of names ahead of his when it came to listing players who did not meet expectations against the Leafs and in the following loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

38 VICTORIES

Gerber had 38 wins last year as the Carolina Hurricanes starter in the regular season, so he must have been doing something right.

Gerber has shown the potential for brilliance. He made believers of the Senators last year, throwing at them a couple of the best netminding performances they saw in a season when they made opposition goaltenders play the bug to their windshield.

Gerber was about as good as it gets in goal for his native Switzerland against Canada in the Winter Olympics last February in Turin, Italy.

The Senators need to give Gerber every chance to try and get to and stay at that level.

That means giving him the games he needs to do it.


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