The Leafs cannot just throw this guy on Waivers. Like one person said earlier, just letting him go could lead to a missed opportunity by not getting something at least for him. He still does have potential to be a solid #1 goaltender in the NHL but definitely not on the Maple Leafs or any other Eastern club. Like I said before, and even before the trade with the Kings took place when I was already speculating on a landing spot for him, that the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers would be an ideal fit, even before the Leafs came into view. The Flames is the best spot for Bernier I think. They are also in need of a young future goaltender or an "answer" to their question between the pipes. To me, the Oilers are too much of a run and gun type team, just building around speed and skill and never thinking about defense at least not yet. Gee, I wonder why the Oilers cant win games...hmm? Maybe Chiarelli and McClellan will address that at some point soon. Playing in Edmonton would further hurt Bernier's value and confidence and would ultimately wind up out of the NHL for sure.
If a trade happens with the Flames, I don't mind taking back Hiller, but if Sparks plays great tomorrow night, then perhaps the Leafs don't need another goaltender and could possibly create an unnecessary log jam in goal. I would like to see the Leafs pick up Josh Jooris, or Lance Bouma (at least one of their big young centers). Not sure about future bright defensemen, and they are going with a lot of veterans on the blue line all of them struggling mightily it seems.
Anyway, I hope Sparks plays well...not only for the sake of the Maple Leafs, but because Garret went to one of my rival high schools in the west suburbs of Chicago, York High school in suburban Elmhurst. One of my close friends, who is also a teacher like me happens to teach there at the moment as well. Our high schools did play in the same conference in athletics, the West Suburban Silver, which is one of the most competitive and well known historical high school athletics conference in the state of Illinois, but hockey here isn't the same as Minnesota or the east coast, and certainly nothing like Canada's schools. Hockey here is through clubs and few high schools who have interest actually pair up to form one single club and most of the coaches are fat, dumb fathers. I had been playing on ice for only one year and already knew much much more about the game then the other guys did after the main serious coach left us. But, no offense if you happen to be an Illinois High School club hockey coach reading this, but following my junior year our coach who wasn't one of the parents left our program to coach one of the bigger city catholic school teams (Mt. Carmel) if anyone has heard of it especially in football (Donovan McNabb starred there)...So like Sparks to get better experience and to get more people from colleges or juniors to look at you, you had to join a travel team or just pick up and play somewhere north of the city and that led me eventually to Hope College, one of the top college club teams in the nation. But then again, I started playing hockey seriously as a goalie way too late well into my sophomore year in high school. Too much damn time playing baseball and soccer! Oh well...
Sparks' parents actually moved him up to Ontario either his Junior or Senior year to play more seriously...I still think he earned his diploma from York HS even while playing in Canada...
Here's wishing for the best for the Leafs as usual and let's hope the kid from Elmhurst gives the team a bright spot moving forward...
Huge win for the LA Kings last night over Patrick Kane and the hated Blackhawks. Wish I was there at Staples to shout "Get the hell out of our building!" to all those damned bandwagon Hawk fans...I actually wrote a letter to the LA Kings ticket office voicing my displeasure at the sight of all the red in the lower sections of the game Saturday. That is inexcusable for a team like the Kings who have been selling out each home game for several long years, even during the seasons when the United Center was a ghost town. All that red just about made me puke!
Really, I was totally under the impression the AHL were already experimenting with goals that are maybe a 1/2 of the current goalposts and cross bars. If not my bad. I don't go to many AHL games, because the Chicago Wolves play the same damn 5-6 teams each and every week it seems out of 30 teams and they don't even play the Toronto Marlies or LA Kings farm team this season, not even once and they are in the same conference.
But I have heard all those guys talking on HNIC and Sports Net about wider nets but it sure sounded like they were using them already this year...Hence several 9-8 and 7-6 scores this season I have seen. My apologies...You sure the AHL hasn't started the experiment? Several of the HNIC guys sure made it seem like they had been using them already right now...? Didn't sound like speculation, only at the NHL level is the speculation, because the AHL always is trying new things before the NHL goes forward with it....Shootouts, 3 on 3 OT, no line changes after a icing, etc.
UPDATED AFTER FIRST PERIOD:
Solid start for Sparks in net. Was challenged on that one shift with a point blank blocker save and soaked up a slap shot from the blue line after the only real defensive mistake made by the Leafs in the opening 20. Still, looks much sharper and into the game than Jonathan Bernier...I wonder what is going through his mind on the bench. If Sparks and the team keep up the solid, confident play in front of him, Bernier could be well on his way out of town.
UPDATED 11:10 PM CT:
Sparks was superb tonight in goal. He was sharp, he challenged shooters and came up with the few big saves needed to win a close, low scoring game. Jonathan Bernier is nowhere close to where Sparks is (comparing game mentality, confidence and overall ability)...I wondered how Bernier felt before the game, and now I can only imagine how he feels now. Bernier's days with the Leafs are numbered I am willing to bet. And I hope they are. I am very confident with the Leafs having chances to win more games and improve with a tandem of Reimer/Sparks compared to a tandem of Reimer/Bernier. Try and trade Bernier for something, but really if not, I wont be so disappointed if they just throw him to waivers. The Leafs gave up Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin for Bernier. Scrivens is now buried lower on the Oilers goaltending depth chart which cant be good, and Frattin, well he is back with the Leafs playing for the Marlies. Big deal...So long Bernier...disappointed with the Kings (but Quick simply beat him to the punch) and even more disappointed with the Leafs in 2 and 1/4 seasons.