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The Official Site of the Toronto Maple Leafs

After the gold rush, a harsh dose of reality -- Part I

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John Iaboni

John Iaboni has been covering the Maple Leafs and the NHL for nearly 30 years. For the last 10 years, he has been the managing editor of the team's game day magazine and now you can share his exclusive inside access.

TORONTO -- Thank goodness Pat Quinn is a hard-nosed Irishman capable of dealing with whatever the hockey gods send his way.

When Sweden smoked Team Canada in Game 1 of the Olympic tournament, Quinn took the game as an eye-opener and made the adjustments to coach his country to its first men's hockey gold medal in 50 years.

The toughest decision Quinn had to make involved goaltending. It wasn't easy replacing Curtis Joseph, his main man with the Maple Leafs, with Martin Brodeur and then sticking with the New Jersey Devils' goalie for the rest of the Olympics. But when Brodeur refused to lose, the choice became academic.

It wasn't long after Quinn's return to Toronto that goaltending became of primary concern for the Maple Leafs. First, there were reports of a rift between Quinn and Joseph over the Olympic scenario.

But that barely got off the ground when Joseph injured his hand in the Leafs' first post-Olympic match. The medical report indicates an absence of four to six weeks for Joseph. Suddenly, Quinn was staring at a goaltending dilemma.
Curtis Joseph's injury has caused the Leafs problems.

Quicker than you can say Jeff Hackett-Mike Vernon-Trevor Kidd-Kevin Weekes or any other so-called "available" veteran, the Leafs supposedly were on the verge of making a trade.

However, insiders insist that isn't the Leafs' first priority. In essence, these sources say, the Leafs' Plan A is to leave the goaltending up to backup Corey Schwab and rookie call-up Sebastien Centomo.

If this combo can plug the leak in the dyke and prevail until Joseph returns, then the Leafs will avoid Plan B which is to obtain a veteran goalie, drawing an ample stipend with no guarantee the new acquisition will do any better than either Schwab or Centomo.

Of course, whether the Leafs exercise Plan A or Plan B is left to Schwab and Centomo - and they will be evaluated in a hurry. For his part, Schwab looked at ease in his second start as No. 1 (against the Buffalo Sabres) more than he did in his first (against the Devils the previous night).

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