Toronto Maple Leafs: A "Head Shot," Suspension and Injuries Solve Goalie Issues

Cale LoneyCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 13:  Colby Armstrong #9 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates with teammate Mike Brown #18 after Armstrong scored a third period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Arena on January 13, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had their three goalie problem solved for them. With minor injuries to Fredrick Sjostrom and Kris Versteeg, and the suspension to Mike Brown, the Leafs needed to call-up a player from the Toronto Marlies to fill the roster.

Since Versteeg and Sjostrom are both day-to-day the Leafs did not place them on the long-term injury reserve. They were required to send James Reimer down to the Marlies to stay under the 23-player contract limit.

Reimer is an unfortunate victim of circumstances. Most NHL teams don't like to carry three goaltenders, both the Leafs and the Marlies have have injured players, and being the only goalie on a two-way contract made the decision easier.

After the young goalie's stellar play, it has become clear that the Leafs goaltending depth isn't a myth. With Reimer being sent to down due to injuries and suspensions there is at least one beneficiary, Marlies call-up Marcel Mueller.

Mueller has 7 goals and 20 points in 39 games this season with the Marlies. The 6'3", 220 pound winger will try to bring his powerful play to the NHL level. This will be Mueller's first NHL game of his career.

Speaking of suspensions, Mike Brown has been suspended for three games for his hit on Ed Jovanovski. With concussions becoming a significant issue in the NHL, hockey operations had an easy call on this play. A fourth liner concusses a leader of the the team that's owned by the NHL, easy call.  Is that why Brown was suspended? No, but the optics certainly aren't great.

The Brown hit highlights exactly what is wrong with the NHL's headshot rule. Was it a north-south hit? No. Was it a deliberate attempt to injure? No, in fact before the hit is delivered Brown is in front of Jovanovski. Add that to the fact that the veteran defenceman exposed himself in a way that if any hit was delivered it would have knocked him into tomorrow.

I know this sounds like Don Cherry, but don't be surprised if Cherry brings this hit up Saturday night during Coach's Corner. The hit is simply too good of an example of the type of play that requires defining. The player came from behind but when the hit was delivered it came from in front of the player.

The injury came from the player putting himself in danger by over extending for the puck. The only reason his head was hit was due to his reaching position, looking down solely at the puck.

The NHL needs to decide whether any contact with the head is illegal regardless of whether caused by the checker or the one receiving the check. Or they could even clarify the actual rule of checking, the goal being to separate the player from the puck as it is painfully obvious that this is no longer the reason for hitting.