TORONTO - Goaltending is the biggest gamble in hockey (i.e. Ilya Bryzgalov), so probably the last thing Leafs GM Brian Burke should do at this point is give up a draft pick, prospect or player of any note for a goaltender.
Other than the very elite, goaltenders can get hot or cold at a snap of a finger. Clearly James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson — whose signing was considered a major coup by Burke in 2009 — are not the answer. So why not give Ben Scrivens another shot?
The 25-year-old has some NHL experience, having played eight games with the Leafs earlier this season, posting a respectable 2.96 goals against average and .904 save percentage. In 26 games with the Marlies, his stats are even more impressive, a 2.30 GAA and .914 SV%. Hey, you never know. Maybe he’ll catch fire with the Leafs. (The young Swede Mark Owuya has even better stats with the Marlies, but no NHL experience, so a playoff race may not be the right time to throw him into the fray).
Burke said recently that he is thinking long term and is not interested in interrupting the rebuilding plan for the sake of a quick visit to the playoffs this season. Scrivens may just be the answer. And if he isn’t, then the Leafs have the off-season to address their goaltending situation and try to secure a front-line goalie. Perhaps Owuya is their future No.1.
IT’S NEVER BURKE’S FAULT
Brian Burke on TSN Radio the other day referred to some Toronto media guys as dirtbags and imbeciles. More hard words. Big Burkie certainly has had his share of feuds over the years — some with Toronto media guys, some with Vancouver media guys, Kevin Lowe, Don Cherry ... I believe there are others. (And if the media in Anaheim cared about hockey, he probably would have feuded with some of them). And you know what? The problem always seems to be the other guy.
WHO’S A DIRTBAG?
Speaking of dirtbags, the only Dirtbag I ever knew was a guy named Dirtbag who worked at the Sun a few years back. We played at a hockey tournament in Calgary once and, at the banquet, one of the guys on the Sun Sports Dept. team yelled something at Dirtbag, and Dirtbag, who looks like a biker, bit him on the head and drew blood. Shock and hilarity ensued.
Here’s another thought about Burkie. If he ever decides to give up his GM gig, he’d be crazy not to go on the radio full-time. Say what you want about the old grouch, but the guy is magic on the airwaves. To wit, a local radio dude recently suggested that Leafs fans, “eat, sleep and crap” the Leafs. That would seriously hurt.
DON’T BUY WHAT YOU CAN’T PAY FOR
Italian IOC member Mario Pescante is resigning as the committee’s vice-president over Rome’s decision to pull out of the race to host the 2020 Olympics. The Italian government said it would be irresponsible to provide financial guarantees and cover any potential funding deficits in light of the on-going European economic crisis. Pescante said he is “embarrassed” by the decision. But he’s wrong to be embarrassed. The last thing any nation — or city — experiencing financial problems should do is bid for an Olympics. Rob Ford was absolutely right to shoot down Toronto’s interest in the 2020 Games.
WHILE I’M AT IT
• If Major League Baseball pushes through an extended playoff system this season, there should be no more excuses for the Toronto Blue Jays not making the playoffs. Eighteen years without a taste of the post-season is far too long.
• There is already a book coming out on Jeremy Lin. It’s a great story, but Lin’s been tearing up the NBA for how long now? Three weeks? Shouldn’t an athlete do something over an extended period of time, like perhaps two months, before a book is written about him?
• CBC is coming out with another Don Cherry movie, Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II. In this episode, Grapes reveals that he is great.
WEENIE OF THE WEEK
Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who faces four drunk driving-related charges after an incident on Dec. 22, in suburban Pittsburgh. There’s no excuse for drunk driving, especially if you’re a guy who can easily afford a cab or a limo, or a full-time driver.