Leafs pull Pogge up from AHL

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Just a few days ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs were not about to throw prized goaltending prospect Justin Pogge into the middle of the biggest team crisis in a decade.

But like Ken Wregget and Allan Bester during the Ballard years, a baptism by fire is coming for the youngster from Penticton, B.C.

Pogge, who was 2006 Canadian major junior hockey's goaltender of the year with the Calgary Hitmen, was plucked from the AHL Marlies yesterday.

The Maple Leafs also claiming checking forward Dominic Moore on waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

Both will join the team for tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks, who are licking their chops after the Leafs were outscored 10-2 in the first two stops of the California trip.

"We're not in ideal circumstances at this point," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said.

"But you can have that debate any number of times. There are no easy opponents."

But Ferguson and coach Paul Maurice insisted tonight's start still could go to Vesa Toskala, countering reports that Toskala aggravated his groin when Andrew Raycroft fell apart against the Kings on Thursday night and forced a goalie change.

Toskala, who badly wants the start against his former team, was walking fine yesterday.

He expressed shock that Pogge was coming.

"I'm good to go," said Toskala, but it might not be up to him.

After a rocky start to his pro career with the Marlies last year, Pogge improved this season.

He has a 13-3 record, with two shutouts, on a first-place team.

Raycroft, meanwhile, might have played his last game for the Leafs and could be put on waivers.

"I'm definitely looking for a hole to crawl into tonight," Raycroft said after the Kings burned him for four goals in one period and drove his goals-against average upwards of 4.00.

Moore's acquisition is a bit of a head scratcher, although he fits under the salary cap.

The Thornhill, Ont., forward is the younger brother of Steve Moore, victimized by Todd Bertuzzi's career-ending hit a couple of years ago.

The player moves came amid rampant speculation about the job security of head coach Paul Maurice and GM John Ferguson.

The Leafs have won just twice in 12 games and have fallen to 28th overall in the NHL.

In fact, Toronto's 16 wins leaves it tied for last in the league with the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Richard Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment who raised eyebrows when he joined the team on the road trip, told the press yesterday that the board would be discussing Ferguson's future soon.

"If we think we need to do something, we'll do it when the timing is right," Peddie said in Los Angeles.

The fact his job is being questioned didn't surprise the general manager.

"To hear that anyone is not disappointed with the effort recently would not be surprising," Ferguson told reporters in Los Angeles yesterday.

"None of that surprises me. I am responsible for everything that goes on here. I am accountable for it. That's nothing new."

He declined to say if he had considered firing Maurice.

"I'm not going to get into that right now," said Ferguson.


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