My favorite thing to do this time of year in order to get my NHL team fix, is search Twitter for anything trending Leafs. (#Leafs) It is a slow time of year on twitter for Leafs fans, unless we get a Sun News Media Steve Simmons rumor that Thomas Vokoun is on the Toronto Maple Leafs free agent radar. It then heats up again when General Manager Brian Burke suggests he has already opened talks with the Vancouver Canucks regarding goalie Roberto Luongo.
As the Stanley Cup finals start tonight, a mostly quiet wasteland of chirps and tweets from Leafs Nation has revolved around goal tending. I received one of these tweets today asking me what I think of the Thomas Vokoun vs Roberto Luongo discussion that has arisen over the last few days. A great active follower of mine @ShaneD75 was looking for my insight into the dilemma. If you had your choice between one or the other who would it be and why?
I looked at the stats and it was like putting the two goalies up to a mirror:
Thomas Vokoun with 680 games played. 287 wins. 48 Shutouts. 2.55 Goals against average. .917 Save Percentage.
Roberto Luongo with 727 games played. 339 wins. 60 Shutouts. 2.52 Goals against average. .919 Save Percentage.
The stats don’t tell the whole story, they don’t always paint the most amazing picture for any player no matter the stat. The stat that stands out for me is the amount of games these two goalies have put up in their respective careers. Both of these goalies have carried a work load no matter the team they have played on.
Both being able to play in 60 plus games on average a season is absolutely a testament to the amount of hard work these two men put into conditioning. This alone helps me make my decision if I am a front office bigwig about to add my input. Both these goalies have seen a ton of ice time and more rubber than road kill on labor day weekend. In 2006 Vokoun was afflicted by thrombophlebitis of the pelvis, a blood-clotting condition. At the beginning of the 2007 season Vokoun injured his thumb and needed surgery. Both of these injuries combined with the amount of games Vokoun has played shows me he can’t carry a workload anymore. He will be a back-up goalie wherever he goes. Never being able to climb into a number one spot if he was needed might set back the growth of James Reimer.
Remember both these goalies have paved their way through the Florida Panther franchise. When Luongo left Florida and his 75 starts a season there to head towards Vancouver, Vokoun spent one more year in Nashville before joining the Panthers and taking on almost twice the amount of starts in 2008 totaling 69. Florida likes having a goalie that can play the majority of games. Those few years in Florida probably benefited them both on many levels including the experience of playing on a team that had some poor defensive ability. If the Toronto Maple Leafs look as bad as they did this year defensively, this experience just might pay off.
Thomas Vokoun is headed back to the Nashville Predators if you are a betting man. His years there were unbelievable, including his career season carrying the team to their first playoff berth. He was a fan favorite in Nashville and will find no problem settling in behind Pekka Rinne and taking on a few starts. Why not Toronto?
If you are Brian Burke you are skating on thin ice by now. You have fired your old colleague and friend of many years which means the “fire the coach” card is out the window. The playoffs not only seem like a distant dream after this season, but now they are the up-most importance in keeping your job and redefining your career if you are Brian Burke. You are running out of cards to play. Your back is against the wall so to speak not only regarding all things Leafs Nation, but your very career might hang in the balance. Putting this deal together to put an all-star goalie between the pipes for the Toronto Maple Leafs could be your last defining move. It would be a big one. It would be full of scrutiny and upon most counts come off as an absolute gamble.
Playing the Luongo card this summer could be the final card in the deck for Brian Burke and we would see where it would get him by December of this year. If this team is not in the thick of the Eastern Conference standings by January this year the entire front office just might get wiped clean at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. Vokoun is plan B if there ever was one for Brian Burke and his front office. It just might not be the one that keeps him his job.
The road to a playoff berth and the praises of genius Brian Burke deserves are paved through a massive trade that would bring one of the greatest NHL goalies to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Luongo for the Win
Follow ME on twitter while I work on some sort of fantasy trade package that doesn’t include Luke Schenn.