Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is the backup goalie "controversy" manufactured?

I'm having a hard time swallowing the media-driven storyline that Tuukka Rask has competition for the backup goalie position.

Yeah, the Bruins went out and signed Danny Sabourin as a third option in goal. But does anyone seriously think that Sabourin, who has played all of one preseason game in a Boston uniform after being ditched by the Pens, is going to take away Rask's opportunity to break into the NHL as a regular contributor?

So far, the Bruins organization has so far invested the following in Rask:
- Andrew Raycroft
- Manny Fernandez
- Three years of careful development
- $9.6 million in salary

Rask is now 22 and in a contract year. He has made the most of his NHL audition so far, shutting out the Rangers last season and holding them to one goal in his lone start this preseason. He has the opportunity to play behind a 35-year-old Vezina winner on a defending conference championship team. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has effectively cleared a path for him to the backup position by choosing not to even negotiate an extension for Fernandez.

The plan is obvious: Rask plays the next 2-3 seasons as a 30-game backup, and gradually begins to compete with Thomas for playing time. By the end of Thomas' contract in 2013, Rask should be the nightly starting goalie.

All of this adds up to an obvious truth: The backup job is Rask's alone this season. Only in dire circumstances will Sabourin have a shot at playing in Boston.

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