Tuesday, August 10, 2004


World Cup: Belfour BACKing Out

The World Cup of Hockey is quickly turning into a tournament of �who won�t be there�, rather than who WILL be there. We saw earlier that Rob Blake pulled himself out, and now...

Toronto�s hard-drinking, television tossing goaltending Ed Belfour has pulled out of the World Cup as his reoccurring back problems have flared up again. He�ll be replaced by biker-gang member Jose Theodore

Now, Maple Leafs fans must be nervous, given the fact their team just gave Belfour a guaranteed 2-year contract, with an option for a 3rd year. Total Cost? $22 million over 3 years.

Belfour was and has been great for the Leafs during his tenure there, but why would you give a 39-year old goalie with a creaky back a guaranteed 2 year deal? Is there an insurer dumb enough to actually give the Leafs a policy? It probably cost the Leafs a small fortune just to get insurance on Belfour�s deal.

Belfour was 34-19-6 last year in 59 games with the Leafs. He also had a nice 2.13GAA and 91.8 SV%. He also missed 11 games with 3 separate injuries, and played hurt during the playoffs. It doesn�t make a whole lot of sense to make to sign Belfour for more than 1 year guaranteed.

Would Belfour have been able to get the same contract on the open market?

Big Dan from the Face Off Circle presented an argument that I thought was interesting:

I'd do what Detroit has done this year (Yzerman, Shanahan, Chelios, Schneider). I'd offer a significant pay cut. Eddie, here's a two-year $8 million deal. You are free to shop your services around. If you are offered something better, let us know and we will decide whether to match (as you know Belfour wants to stay playing near his hometown). That is a fair offer.

If Belfour walks, you sign a guy like Weekes for $1.5. If he does not pan out, you wait for the right deal. As the season progresses, budgetary constraints could cause Dunham/ Cechmanek/ Fernandez/ or Thibault to be dealt for a crappy draft pick.

Or Ferguson could call up George McPhee about Olaf Kolzig. I'd rather have a 34-year-old Kolzig at $6.25 than a 39-year-old Belfour at $8. I am sure you wouldn't have to twist their arm very hard either. The Caps are going to suck anyway and they have Ouellet and Charpentier and Daigneault in goal (Stana left).

My guess would be Belfour would return to the Leafs for around 2-year, $10 million.

After looking at his argument, I can see why the Leafs gave Belfour what they did.

Let�s face it, as much as a risk as Belfour is, he�s still one of the better goaltenders in the NHL. It won�t hurt the Leafs nation to overpay somewhat for Belfour, especially since he *might* be given a good deal by another team, even in today�s market. Goaltending is seen as the #1 position of importance by most franchises, and there are other contenders out there who might have considered giving Belfour a similar deal (Especially the goalie-hungry Rangers). This isn�t a Bobby Holik-like signing.

What the Leafs really need to do is get a backup who doesn�t suck.

Forget what the Leafs are paying Belfour, the fact that they paid Trevor Kidd $650,000 to basically lose games for them was one of the biggest wastes of money since the BC �Fast Ferries� fiasco (If you live in Vancouver, you know what I mean).

If I were a Leafs fan, I�d be worried that the Leafs haven�t gone out and signed a capable backup goaltender to fill in while Belfour may be injured. A quality backup would also allow the Leafs to rest Belfour during the regular season, so he�d be minty fresh for the playoffs.
As long as the Leafs are dishing out more cheques than the welfare office, they might as well spend a bit more to get a quality backup goaltender. The options in their system haven�t panned out, and their window of opportunity is closing as their veteran stars are getting older.


Kubina out of the World Cup

Another high-quality defenseman has pulled out of the World Cup, and this time, it was a surprise.

Czech Team spokesman (and kick-ass writer) Pavel Barta revealed that Kubina has withdrawn due to the effects of drinking too much beer after winning the Stanley Cup. (The concussion story is a clever cover-up)

My guess is that they will subtract the �IN� and name Filip Kuba to the roster as a replacement. At the very least, Kuba is 4/6th�s the defenseman that Kubina is.

Belfore is a head case. I have a problem with long terming any nut job andmaking him a keystone to your teams chances, balcky back or no.

HOWEVER, you also can;t take a cornerstone, try to get his salary and ask him to play nice and give you a right to match if he gets something better. Fantasy land. You have rights on a player or at least an inside track because he wore your uniform and you deal with that as a position of strenght.

True you can try to leverage "good for the team" in there, and "market place for old goalies might not be good with the strike" as negotiating cornerstones. Obviously though, that doesn't mean the player will lay down and agree.

as for the goalie drop off, I think in the nhl these days, unless you are the top 3 temas out there your goalie ISNT as vital as everyone thinks it is, and massive guys able to do the job flood the market. IF you know where to look, and have a team that can play d. Look at the last several cup finals. Streaky goalies, Young goalies, the WORST GOALTENDING tandmen int he nhl ('canes) ALL made it. this last cup had two netminders on top of there games during the playoff run. and either netminder could have been ANY teams netminder. The wall was auctioned off in a contract despute and one of the worse teams int he league managed to pony up a decent (but certainly not unbeatable) offer. The other net minder went for a pick and a used puck a few years back. BOTH are far from hall of famers and the wall still has major consistancy problems.

and the year before tha's here? a young gun with perhaps a future that was hot, but suddenly reality crashed in on him, and he had a simply dreadful year.

golatending is no longer a positon where there are 3 tiers and cup contenders need one of the 8 top tier goaltenders. there are now two tiers and the top tier comprises only 3 net minders, and every other goalie is in the second tier.

the teams that are making playoff noise pretty much have figured that out. the high priced dinosars are still playing 18 yet yets 10 million to do no more than and other teams 2 million goalie

so yea on point 4 jes. you can talk the talk and negotiate but if it doesnt work with a specific player, it doesnt work.

but points 1-3? no go.

if the fans haven't figured out that 10 million on belfor is not any better than picking turek of the waiver wire floor and giving him 3 million, then need to learn soon.

and oleg has just as much chance of getting a ring next season as cujo, hasek, j.s., the wall, and chris osgood
I posted this on Face Off Circle, but it applies to you as well babycakes


1. In today's NHL, there is a CHANCE of success if you have a team with a great defensive system and a mediocre goalie.

Chances aren't great, but it's possible.

Of course, like Bettman has shown, these cinderella teams are one-hit wonders. It's great to see Calgary get far, and new blood in the finals, but quality will win 9 times out of 10.

Look at Carolina, Minnesota, and Anaheim the year after. Where did they go? That's right, they regressed back into reality and out of the playoffs. A mediocre team with a mediocre goalie will generally play mediocre hockey.

Sure, NJ got buy with a less-than-great goalie, but they have such a tight system and a quality roster than they could get away with it...same with Detroit back with Osbad.

If you want to have a GOOD team with a GOOD chance of succeeding, you need a quality goalie and a quality team. A team like Toronto, over the long-haul, is going to have a better chance of success than a mediocre team like Calgary.

2. Teams like Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, NY, etc...who don't play a choke-me-to-death style of hockey need a good goalie to succeed. The Leafs don't have the great defense or the STYLE of play that will succeed without a good goalie to back them up.

Really, I'd be more pissed about the Leafs throwing money to old guys like roberts and nieuwendyk. These two guys wouldn't have got the same money on this open market...no way. Belfour, on the other hand, is prime real estate and if the Leafs had to overpay a bit, it likely won't hurt them as bad.
Of course, the option/buyout and length is crazy, but it'll hurt the Leafs and not me :)

Kolzig: He'd be a GREAT backup goalie, but I think he's not a quality #1 guy if you have any real contention hopes. I know Washington's defense was Bill Clinton/Monica-like weak, but Kolzig didn't bail out his team like Luongo, because Kolzig just isn't capable. he still loses his temper and blows his stack, and he'll probably go insane if he stays in Washington any longer.

Maxime Ouelett is ready for the reigns and Kolzig is a sunk cost. Washington would be wise to eat a chunk of his salary and sell him to the highest bidder.

- J
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