Sun Oct 09 11:31pm EDT
Last season, then-Owen Sound Attack coach Mark Reeds showed conventional wisdom can be an oxymoron when he rotated three starting goalies during the league championship series.
People could probably still have a good sports-bar argument over whether the three-headed goalie sideshow of Jordan Binnington, Scott Stajcer and Michael Zador was an overthink, a help or hindrance to the Attack. Reeds, of course, is now in the NHL an an Ottawa Senators assistant coach and Zador has moved on, but the Attack still have a potentially awkward situation with their netminders.
Long story short, the 20-year-old Stajcer has been returned to the Attack by the New York Rangers, who had kept him around to be the emergency backup on their season-opening trip to Europe. It creates quite the dilemma for Attack GM Dale DeGray. Or perhaps it doesn't, since he could have made up his mind to move onward and upward and trade the goaltender. It is supposed to be Binnington's time to shine after the St. Louis Blues drafted him in June. One suspects it would be considered less than ideal if Binnington had an older, more seasoned and at least equally accomplished 'tender competing for playoff time, instead of having a clear hiearchy.
The other thorny part is that Stajcer is an overage returning to a team that doesn't know if it has parted ways with centre Joey Hishon. The Colorado Avalanche first-rounder is recovering from the concussion he suffered on May 21 during the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Hope is still being held out that Hishon might play for the Attack yet.
If Hishon is able to recover at some point this season, it may actually be a blessing to the Attack ... as well as Hishon. Many were expecting he would turn pro this season and play in the AHL. But with no NHL camp time and a long recovery ahead of him, if he comes back at all this season, you'd have to assume it'd be with Owen Sound (instead of throwing him straight to the wolves in the AHL/ECHL). (OHL Prospects)
Keeping Stajcer on closes that door. (The Attack's other overages are captain Mike Halmo, defenceman Jay Gilbert and wing Brett Appio.) What is DeGray to do?
One suspects Stajcer, once the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over, might not be long for the Attack. It is not in either his nor Binnington's interest to split the starts 50/50. The two of them handled it with aplomb during the Memorial Cup last spring, often joking about it with reporters while standing side-by-side conducting interviews and staying poker-faced as they maintained they didn't know which goalie was in the barrel, to use the original Dick Irvin's expression.
The simplest explanation is the Rangers organization are likely returning Stajcer to junior with the full confidence he'll end up on a team where he'll be a clear No. 1 goalie. The OHL's roster rules allow a team to keep four overages (only three can play in a game) until January, so DeGray and another Trader Vic GM will have some time to adjust. No doubt every armchair GM already has a list of destinations of where Stajcer could end up. Then again, the Attack have gone against the grain before.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: CHL Images).