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article imageDon Cherry on Leafs swoon: 'it's so easy to blame the goalie'

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 22, 2012 in Sports
One of Canada's biggest Toronto Maple Leafs fans talked about things the Leafs need to do to get back to winning hockey. And despite years of making fun of a goalie he once coached, Don Cherry's big message was - don't blame the goalies.
"I don't know about the goaltending. It's so easy to blame the goalie," Sportsnet quoted Cherry saying. "If you look at the goals, what is (Reimer) supposed to do there. I don't buy that. They're getting too many breakaways, too many 2-on-1s." Cherry was referring to goals Reimer let in against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 18, a game in which he was pulled mid-way through after allowing 4 goals.
Cherry picks James Reimer
Cherry also made some recommendations as to which of the two Leaf goalies should get the reins for the stretch run to, he hopes, the playoffs. Both are in a bit of a swoon that coincides with the swoon the Leafs are in, with the 6-2 loss in Vancouver a microcosm of the troubles, with neither goalie playing well and the team in front of them lacking jump and cohesion.
"If you remember them last year, Reimer carried them and they almost made the playoffs. You got to go with the guy," Cherry said. "He's out a month in a half. As soon as he starts playing bad, he's out. You got to give him confidence. Remember before he got hurt, he was dynamite. When goalies get hurt, their timing is thrown off. Got to get in the game. I'd go with Reimer because he's proved he can do it."
Leafs need defenceman, centreman
Cherry, who makes fun of Hardy Astrom, his goalie when he coached the former NHL Colorado Rockies, insisted Reimer's timing might be off after his injury despite the fact Reimer has played strong games since his return, including back-to-back shutouts, the second a 5-0 win on Feb. 4 over the Senators in Ottawa in which he stopped 49 shots.
Regardless, coach Ron Wilson didn't listen to Cherry as he started Gustavsson at home against New Jersey Feb. 21. The Leafs lost in overtime, 4-3, on a bad goal though and it is likely Reimer will get the next start and maybe Cherry's confidence will help the young goalie perform back up to the level he established in the Leafs stretch run last season.
So what is that Cherry figures the Toronto Maple Leafs need in order to get back to winning? He's got, like all fans of the Maple Leafs, an opinion. "They need a real rock defenceman and like everyone in the National Hockey League (and) they need a centreman."
More about Don cherry, Toronto Maple Leafs, james reimer and jonas gustavsson, Brian Burke
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