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Leafs acquire Barrasso

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs solidified their goaltending situation Friday morning, acquiring two-time Stanley Cup winner Tom Barrasso.

Barrasso, who is a free agent the end of the year, was picked up from the Carolina Hurricanes for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2003 Entry Draft.

Trading for a player with the name recognition of Barrasso left some speculation as to the status of Corey Schwab's job but that has been put to rest by Coach/GM Pat Quinn.

"We felt there was some insurance necessary under the circumstances," Quinn told Leafs TV. "Corey's done a marvelous job and Corey will continue to be the lead guy until such time that Curtis (Joseph) comes back."

Trade rumours have been swirling in Toronto since Joseph went down with a broken bone in his hand on February 26. The Leafs have been sailing along under Schwab though, losing just twice in his eight starts (3-2-3), but the reality of heading into the playoffs without a proven goalie was more than the team could bear.

Travis Green stairs in a Tom Barrasso after he makes a save.
The often-quiet and laid-back Schwab took the news of Barrasso's arrival in stride after Friday's practice.

"I wasn't surprised at all, I felt the same way from the day Curtis got hurt. It won't affect the way I prepare or the way I play when I get a chance to play," Schwab said.

"I think it's a good move. I didn't expect coming in after Curtis got hurt that I would play the last 25 games in a row anyway."

In 34 games this season, Barrasso has a 13-12-5 record and a 2.61 goals against average. He arrives on the Toronto scene known as a player that is by no means a media darling but his presence on and off the ice should help the team.

"He comes with some sort of a reputation but one thing I know is he can stop the puck," Quinn said.

Players around the Leafs dressing room weren't concerned about any preconceived notions.

"I don't know where that's coming from. I have no indication of that," Leafs' tough guy Tie Domi said.

"If he can come in here and help us be in a better position for the playoffs then that's all we're really worried about," said Gary Roberts, who remembered getting butt-ended in the face by Barrasso when the netminder was a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

Garry Valk has been a teammate of Barrasso before and he was backing the addition of the former Calder Trophy winner.

"That's the media perception," Valk said of the goalie's rep. "He's a consummate professional and sometimes he doesn't have time for the media so they perceive that as being negative in the room as well. As a player it's not a distraction.

"He has that wealth of knowledge that you can't put a price value on. He knows what it takes to win."

Quinn was asked if Barrasso would be his go-to goalie in the playoffs if Joseph wasn't able to make it back but that scenario doesn't appear to be imminent.

"I think Corey, especially in the last little while, has set himself up pretty well. He's been terrific for us so I don't see making that sort of a change. This was done with the purpose of insurance and we'll deal with that as we go forward."

The possibility of Joseph not being ready for playoffs isn't something that is likely either. Cujo reported that his hand was feeling a lot better and that he was aiming at the six-week mark for his return. That would allow him to be ready during the final week of play.
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