SIMMONS: Gamble on Mrazek paying no dividends for Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are paying now — and might be paying later — for the foolish reach they made on signing Petr Mrazek for three years and $11.4 million in the off-season.
Really, they should have known better. They should have done more homework on the goaltender. They should have understood why Carolina didn’t want him back, which was for similar reasons the Leafs soured on Frederik Andersen.
Behind closed doors, Leafs management complained about Andersen’s health, about his willingness to play and inability to battle through injuries, perceived or otherwise.
That lack of dependability in management’s mind, not to mention the dollars involved, ended Andersen’s time in Toronto. The same lack of dependability ended Mrazek’s time with the Hurricanes.
Pro athletes are never soft. But there’s a wide range of players today. Some will play hurt. Others, foolishly, will play injured. Some will endure.
Through a long season, just about everybody is hurting in some way. It’s different, really, for goaltenders, who can’t lose anything off their fastballs, in both reality and in their minds. A tiny movement, a half-step slower, and a save they would normally make turns into a goal. The percentages are that tight.
And a goalie has to feel and believe he is ready and able and healthy enough to play in order to succeed.
Mrazek broke his thumb last season while playing for the Hurricanes. The injury was thought to be a six-week circumstance as others on the Hurricanes had been similarly injured before. Mrazek was out 10 weeks instead of six.