Raycroft needs super strength

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

Welcome home Andrew Raycroft. Here's a bit of unsolicited advice as you make the move back to your native Ontario. Don't forget to pack your Superman-like nerves of steel -- you're gonna need them.

Growing up in Belleville, you probably think you understand the enormous pressure you will feel between the pipes for the Cup-starved Buds. Hopefully, you also understand that, although you're locked up for a few seasons, the fans in Toronto are rabid and impatient for victory. Leaf fans don't just want the Cup -- they demand it. Now.

The NHL spotlight in Toronto is blindingly bright; every breath you take will be analyzed and scrutinized and every error will be magnified and splashed across newspapers and broken down by call-in sports radio programs daily.

There may be times when you feel as though you are being ganged-up on, that's when having that ultra-thick skin will come in handy. No matter what, it will be extremely tough to ignore backlash. The antidote is simple, however -- string together a few good wins and the tone will quickly switch to that of hero worship.

Expectations are massive here and many will be looking for the super-skills you showed in your rookie campaign back in '03-'04. The speculation will begin in the fall, if not sooner. Can you repeat your Calder Trophy winning season where you went 29-18-9 with a .926 save percentage? What went wrong last year? Can the lockout be blamed? Are those cobwebs and nagging injuries history?

Homecoming or not -- this is a city that lives for the Leafs and when you find yourself letting in a soft one, prepare for the fallout and how suddenly this home won't be your Fortress of Solitude.

Hopefully the weight of this pressure won't turn into your personal brand of Kryptonite.

Jody Vance is a longtime television sportscaster and personality living in Toronto. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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