Ferguson defends Eagle deal

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

John Ferguson Jr. refuses to admit he made a mistake.

In June of 2004, Ferguson signed goalie Ed Belfour to a long term deal that paid the veteran goalie:

- $2 million US for the lockout season of 2004-05.

- $4.56 million this season.

- $4.48 million should the Leafs pick up the club option for 2005-06. If they don't, the team is obligated to shell out $1.5 million to the veteran.

And what did they get for their money? Unless they pick up the option (which would leave them open to severe ridicule), they got 49 starts from a guy who produced a 3.29 goals-against average and a 22-22-4 record.

"Take a look at the No. 1 goalies who changed hands in the off-season," Ferguson said. "Not many moved and those that did went for more than the ($4.56 million) Eddie is getting.

"Clearly when you look at the most recent history, Eddie led all goalies in post-season shutouts (in 2004-05). He blanked the Ottawa Senators three times."

Ferguson might believe he made the right move, but we doubt many Leafs fans share his sentiments this morning.

Belfour was signed in late June. Had they waited until July 1 and signed him, he would have had to undergone a physical like every unrestricted free agent.

POGGE WATCH

With Belfour all but out of the Leafs future plans between the pipes, Maple Leafs goaltening prospect Justin Pogge now finds himself directly in the spotlight more than ever before.

Pogge, drafted 90th overall by the Leafs in 2004, went 6-0 with three shutouts and a .950 save percentage at the world junior championship in Vancouver this winter, leading Team Canada to a gold medal.

Earlier this week, Pogge was named to the WHL's easternconference first all-star team and was selected as a finalist for the WHL's goalie of the year award. Given the year he had with the Calgary Hitmen, it's easy to see why.

His 11 shutouts were a Calgary single-season record. He became the first Hitmen goaltender to record three consecutive shutouts.

Pogge finished the regular season with 38 victories, a league-leading 1.72 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

The Hitmen open the post-season today.


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