“Always Leave with the One Who Brung ‘Ya”

This was my dad’s advice to me when I went to high school dances.  That is to say, if you take a girl to a dance then you stay with that girl to end of the evening and make sure she gets home happy and safe.  You don’t look for a new date at the end of the evening and leave her jilted and embarrassed.

Coaches have never been shy to pull a goalie if he’s playing poorly or the team needs a wake-up call.  Heck, Mike Keenan probably dreams about it in his sleep.  But they NEVER, EVER pull the goalie right before the start of a shootout.  At least they didn’t, until Leafs new coach Ron Wilson did it to Vesa Toskala last night in a game against the Ducks.  With the game tied 2-2 after OT Wilson removed Toskala, who was quite warm after playing 65 minutes of hockey, and replaced him with Curtis Joseph, who was probably quite cold after sitting on the bench for 65 minutes of hockey.  Cujo didn’t make any saves in the shootout and the Ducks won.  (The Leafs didn’t score any shootout goals either but that’s another story for someone else to cover)

Wilson defended the move afterwards by saying “we had nothing to lose”.  Toskala and Joseph said all the right things afterwards (more here as well) but how do you feel if you’re Toskala and the coach basically says “we’ve got no chance to win the shootout with you in net”.  The Leafs were in for a long season anyway but for Toskala it’s starting to look a bit longer with Keenan, I mean Wilson, looking over his shoulder.


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