Justin Pogge to Make Leaf Debut Tonight

It’s not like the Toronto hockey press corps needed anything more to write about this season (new coach, new GM, Sundin-gate, another season of missing the playoffs) but now they finally get to cover Justin Pogge’s debut in the Leaft net tonight in Atlanta.

Pogge inherits 29 from Mike Palmateer and Felix Potvin

Pogge inherits 29 from Mike Palmateer and Felix Potvin

Pogge has been the Leafs’ “goalie of the future” for a couple seasons now so does this mean the future is finally here?  Not likely.  Coach Ron Wilson said it’s one-and-done for Pogge but did leave the door open to give Vesa Toskala’s groin a longer rest and dress Pogge as Curtis Joseph’s backup tomorrow night at home against Dallas.  To me that sounds like coach speak for “we’re going to give him a shot in a half-empty arena against a team struggling even more than us.  If he steals two points for us we’ll think about exposing him to the media madness that is hockey in Toronto.  Otherwise we’re going with Cujo until Toskala is healed.”

Pogge and Mason both won MVP status in gold medal games for Canada

Pogge and Mason both won MVP status in gold medal games for Canada

Many in Leaf Nation have been calling for Pogge to get his chance, especially after seeing the great success of Steve Mason in Columbus.  Pogge himself has been saying the right things despite some media observations about Mason’s quick success in the NHL vs. that of Pogge.  In my interview with Mike Palmateer earlier this season he sounded really positive about Pogge’s future with the big club so regardless of the results tonight I’d expect to see the Leafs continue on their current plan:

1. Start Toskala in at least 70 games

2. Keep Cujo for spot duty this season

3. Bring in Pogge full-time to back up Toskala next season (leaving Pogge additional time this year for his budding modeling career)

Pogge was featured in an ad campaign for Bootlegger stores.

Pogge was featured in an ad campaign for Bootlegger stores.

Despite some comments that it’s taken too long for Pogge to make it to the NHL, let alone star in it, he is still just 22 years old,  a mere babe in goalie years.  Spending three full seasons playing with the Marlies, rather than sitting in Toronto, has seasoned him as a professional which should make the adjustment to the NHL a lot easier.  And as Mason has shown with the Blue Jackets this month, the new NHL is a place where “backups” can steal the number one job in the blink of an eye (or break of a bone).

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1 Comment

  1. It is about time. Not sure Joseph will get his game back and I don’t think Toskala is up to the games he plays or the future for the leaafs. Plus always a morale boster to see a 29 back in the Toronto net


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