Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Garret Sparks to rediscover his technique, cue montage

The recall of Michael Hutchinson this morning had all the necessary elements required to throw Leafs Nation into its far too common state of panic. Personally I went through four stages of goaltender grief.

Stage 1: LOL, Sparks is scratched
Stage 2: OMFG!!! What if something is wrong with Andersen
Stage 3: Is Woll ready to start???
Stage 4: Thank God, it’s just Sparks

It’s seems as if this training will be occurring in isolation since…

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So really that’s all there is to it. The Leafs want to go with Hutchinson as their backup, and that makes sense given his better numbers for the Leafs, and with him being a bit more game ready based on the volume of work with the Marlies. It’s not that anyone should feel confident that Hutchinson is a solid option if something were to happen to Andersen, but respectable spot duty is something the Leafs have lacked all year with Sparks.

As for Sparks himself, he’s just been handed another year with the Leafs at $750k next season, and potentially if he puts in the work with the coaches this spring and summer (and opts out of  being a beer league winger) he’ll get his chance at camp next summer to compete for the backup job again, although I wouldn’t rule out Hutchinson being brought back or the Leafs bringing in someone new to compete against him for that role.

Galaxy Brain Thought:

Perhaps Sparks has been shutdown because the Leafs front office knows that he needs a change of scenery and has a trade lined up as soon as the Leafs playoffs (read: after they win the cup) are over. Sparks is cheap and only a year commitment, and it seems he’s already lost the Toronto fan base, and potentially the coaching staff as supporters. He’s not going to bring much or anything in return, but I wouldn’t rule out a completely fresh start.

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Back in Reality:

Sparks has essentially become the Leafs 4th string goaltender, behind Woll. I’m certain the Leafs would rather open up the mystery box and see what they have in Woll if their resources become so depleted in the playoffs, but at the same time, it’s too early to completely rule out that we won’t see Sparks on the Leafs bench at some point.

Update: In fact if all goes well we’ll see him in 10 days…

I just want to say kudos to the Leafs organization for managing to make the backup goaltending situation as interesting as possible, right down to having Andersen take a high shot in practice today to remind us that while talking about backups seems silly, it does in fact matter.

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Here’s some #good #reading for you on Garret Sparks and his stuggles:

What Garret Sparks can do to improve his shot at a long NHL career

The Garret Sparks Conundrum

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  • al m

    Simply put, Dubas put him on the team and seemingly Babs finally removed him.
    Sparks has not shown he’s anything more than an AHL goalie. According to many, he never earned his spot, there was seemingly bad management with not keeping one, or two of the other goalies (regardless of waivers…that’s what GM’s are supposed to plan for) and he is obviously too far removed from being relied upon. Much of this seen with his failure with puck control and rebounds.

    I blame Dubas outright. Sure, he tried to make up for this mid season, but it’s a mistake that never needed to happen with an experienced GM under the cap.

    • Goon

      An experienced GM could make waivers go away? No matter what, two goalies had to be placed on waivers. You’d better believe Sparks would have been claimed if he’d been the one sent down.

      Dubas made the right call. He was going to lose at least one goalie on waivers no matter what. Which goalie do you take: The 35-year-old who has been replacement level most of his career, the 25-year-old who just won AHL goalie of the year, or the 25-year-old with mixed results at all levels?

      Every sane person in the world is going to make the same call in that situation – you take the younger player with the higher upside.