Sabourin in tough behind Luongo

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

He might just be the guy to make that Maytag repair dude look busy. He is Dany Sabourin and he does not have the most enviable gig in the NHL - far from it in fact.

He is the Canucks backup goalie ... the man who will play when Roberto Luongo allegedly needs some rest. Which won't be very often.

Sabourin made his debut Tuesday against the Oilers in Edmonton.

It didn't start well. The Oilers only needed 51 seconds to open the scoring and two minutes and 10 seconds to get another one.

As debuts go, this was looking as forgettable as they come. Fortunately, the final 57 minutes were better than the first three, though the Canucks did finish on the wrong end of a 2-1 score.

It's hard to feel much compassion for professional athletes. The good far outweighs the bad. Yes, the constant scrutiny can be a pain in the posterior, but most of these guys understand it goes with the territory. And twice a month they all get a reminder of how fortunate they really are.

Sabourin makes the NHL minimum salary of $450,000. Every two weeks, over an eight-month season, the numbers on his paycheque are in the $28,000 neighbourhood.

It's a nice 'hood to be in.

As strange as this may sound, Sabourin will earn every penny, more for what is expected of him mentally than physically.

Other than quarterback, there is not a more demanding position to play in sport than goaltender. But when you play, you have a chance to develop your game. You can get into a rhythm. Your teammates develop some trust in you ... your coach, some faith.

Sabourin won't have that chance here. He will simply be expected - every eight or nine games or three weeks or so - to come off the bench and give the Canucks a chance to win. Easier said than done.

He has a tough act to follow. Luongo might not be in a class by himself, but whatever class he is in, it doesn't take long to call the roll.

Any save Sabourin makes, Luongo likely would have made too. Any goal he gives up, Luongo probably could have stopped. That will be the perception at least.

Sabourin understands that. He just wants to make the most of any opportunity he gets ... to prove to the organization that has given him this chance that he can do the job. Whenever he gets the chance.

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Barry Macdonald is co-host of BS in the Morning on the Team 1040 from 6-9 a.m. E-mail Barry at: barry.macdonald@24hrs.ca


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