Two Unlikely to Work
Any way you cut it, Andrew Raycroft has been demoted.
After playing 72 games last year, and receiving extensive praise from the organization for his work, Raycroft's now been told he can expect to play far fewer games and possibly even cede the No. 1 goaltending position to newcomer Vesa Toskala.
Don't expect him to like it.
Toskala, meanwhile, was hoping to get out of San Jose for the express purpose of removing himself from the awkward shared goalie system with Evgeny Nabokov.
Now he's been moved, but he's still sharing.
So don't expect him to like it either.
So this newest era in Leaf goaltending essentially starts with two somewhat unhappy goaltenders. The last time they tried this in Toronto, Alan Bester and Ken Wreggett ended up hating each other.
Now, you might say, haven't both the Stanley Cup winners from the last two years, Carolina and Anaheim, both operated with significant contributions from two-goalie systems? In fact, both the Canes and Ducks began their respective Cup drives with goalies, Martin Gerber and Ilya Bryzgalov, that were different than the masked men, Cam Ward and J.S. Giguere, who actually lifted the Cup in the end.
All true. Meanwhile, the Jennings Trophy this season was captured by the Minnesota combination of Manny Fernandez and Nicklas Backstrom, which both carrying a significant load.
But what worked in Carolina, Anaheim and Minny, you have to understand, won't necessarily work in Toronto.
The difference in Toronto - and this is where the sheer volume of Leaf coverage does have an impact - is that it will become a major story, maybe the story every night, as to which goaltender is starting. And how the other guy feels about it. And why Paul Maurice is picking this one over that one. And then we'll have a panel discussion. And maybe a fan poll.
Also, the Toskala-Raycroft duo is different than those in Carolina and Anaheim. In Carolina, Ward was the understudy to Gerber and then took over in the post-season, after which Gerber left town.
In Anaheim, the pecking order was clearly Giguere at No. 1, with Bryzgalov No. 2, and the only reason Bryzgalov started the playoffs was because Giguere had personal issues to attend to involving the birth of his infant son.
In Minnesota, finally, Fernandez and Backstrom enjoyed success, but then Fernandez wanted out when it was all over.
Maybe that's the Leaf plan. Let Toskala and Raycroft compete for a year, and then move one or the other out the following season to make room for Justin Pogge.
But you can bet that even if that's the case, it will be one trying year for goalies next season in Toronto.