A Chance, But Not the Only Chance
Presumably, the Maple Leafs have recalled Justin Pogge to have a look at him this time, not just jerk the kid around.
That's what they did last year when, with the team on a west coast swing, Pogge was hurriedly recalled from the Marlies and told to meet the team in San Jose. He caught a flight, rushed into town, took the morning skate and then didn't even dress for the game.
Right after, he was sent back.
Boy, that must have been a satisfying experience.
But at least the Leafs learned whether he could catch a flight, right?
Idiotic, is what is was, and so was making him watch for almost the entire AHL post-season while Scott Clemmensen played, which became even more idiotic when Clemmensen was unceremoniously dumped after the season so Curtis Joseph could become the latest in a long string of Leafs to have a second tour of duty in Toronto.
Well, now Pogge's back. Nobody knows if he's ready, but you can't say the Leafs haven't been patient with the young netminder.
In fact, after a tradition built on rushing kids to the NHL, it remains rather remarkable (peculiar?) that Pogge stands out as a prospect given time to develop in the minors.
One wonders if, for example, a young player like Alex Steen might have benefitted from a similar apprenticeship.
But back to Pogge.
Hopefully they'll actually let him play this time. Forget Joseph. Pogge should be in the net tonight against Atlanta and tomorrow against Dallas.
So what if he bombs? It's the start of getting an idea whether he can play in the NHL, and that's what this season should be about for any number of players.
If you're going to take a hard look at Jaime Sifers and Jeremy Williams, might as well take a hard look at Pogge, too.
We're past the point, folks, where you should worry about wrecking the kid by rushing him to the big league's too fast, right? After all, he's 22, not 19. The AHL is very different from the NHL, more scrambly to be sure, and it might be that Pogge will find the style of play more helpful to his game.
But who knows?
If he doesn't play well in this stint and has to go to the minors, well, hopefully the Leafs will give him another shot somewhere down the road.
See, this doesn't have to be a make-or-break opportunity for Pogge. It's just a chance.