Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goalie Foolishness

 Last week I went into a bit of a rant on Twitter on the stupidity of the Everblades choosing to rely exclusively on our affiliates for goalies. It was triggered by the the team electing to release the rights to Adrien Lemay as well as a minor injury to Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith. This is the series of tweets that followed:
"To me the Smith injury is a bad omen for the Everblades goalie-wise. We really should have locked down a goalie with an ECHL contract."

"Let's be honest, goalies get injured a lot. If all our goalies are sent from our affiliates what happens when both have injured goalies?"

"Remember two AHL affiliates+ two NHL affiliates= 8 goalies. All it takes is two injuries to leave us high an dry."

"Not to mention a goalie with us being injured. We can't expect Nate Zervos or a local rec league goalie to play against professionals."
 My major point was that it's stupid to think we can rely on our affiliates to fill our goal. It's not hard to remember what happened last season when an injury on the Minnesota Wild led to a chain reaction of call-ups that saw Barry Brust leave us for Houston. That resulted in the team having only Chris Beckford-Tseu. He ended up playing an insane number of consecutive games (23 I think) while one of our local recreation league goalies acted as back-up

What would have happened if there had been an injury to a player in the Panthers system? We wouldn't have had any goalie with professional experience. Of course when everyone realized Barry Brust wasn't coming back a trade was made with the Stingrays for goalie Parker Van Buskirk. Van Buskirk didn't play a single game for the Everblades and was quickly shipped off to the CHL. The team then signed Adrien Lemay who proceeded to play about four games with the team.

All of that was a repeat of the season before when an injury to (coincidentally) Barry Brust led to Anton Khudobin getting a call-up in the midst of the playoffs. Once again the team rode the only professional goalie left, David Leggio, and chose a re league back-up. The Everblades did get farther into the playoffs that season, and the final game was spectacular (although I still have nightmares about that final goal).

 So here we are at the start of the season with the news that we will be relying exclusively on our affiliates for goaltenders. An injury to any of the 8 players in our affiliate clubs means we go without. It's a little scary isn't it? I get that this is a money saving measure. When a player has an NHL or AHL contract the team can receive up to $525 to cover that players salary. A look over at the PHPA website shows how much an ECHL team has to spend on it's players. This is obviously an expensive business and every little penny really does count (perhaps this explains the state of the bathrooms in the arena).

The problem is that while this is a financially intelligent decision, it's just plain stupid when you think of the risks the team is taking. It's inevitable that someone is going to be injured. When that happens we'll be back in the same boat we've been for the last few seasons.

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