I was watching Leafs Today and Eddie was being interviewed. Man, I think I am THE BIGGEST Eddie Belfour fan on these boards. He is an awesome goalie, a fitness and preparation freak, an obsessive perfectionist, viciously competitive, has a distain for the media - basically non-communicative (but better then he used be), and can give you a look on his face like you are a fly in his soup. The guy is strung tighter than Roy Clark's banjo. No wonder he goes so squirrly when he hits the booze; when the Screech hits his gullet he just snaps like one of the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Anyway my point...
He said the pads and blocker were OK, but the glove was a little small. Does not appear like a big deal though. But what was telling was the Quinn conference when the old goat said that they fully expect Belfour will be their goalie for the next 2 years "barring a freak accident" and that this is good because it gives Tellqvist, Pogge, Racine, Ford and Rask time to develop. This should not be anything new because we have been speculating on this Board about this all summer. However, I will just take this opportunity to state my position on this again:
I think this is a brilliant strategy, and that Belfour at $4.5 this year and ~$2 next year is a steal, steal steal. Belfour said that he expects to play around 60 games this year (just like the past 5 years). I think Eddie is going to make a run for the Vezina this year. Yup, I said it.
Eddie cost us nothing in terms of trading assets, but does provide us top 10 goalie and buys time for the young kids to develop (who, by the way, seem to be developing nicely). Add this to the fact the he brought his highly acclaimed personal goalie coach McKichan to the organization is an asset the Leafs will benefit from for many years.
Lots of people on these Boards spewed all over JFJ for signing Belfour to that contract. It is their opinion, but a very weak one in my opinion. As I keep saying, age is irrelevant. Stopping the puck is relevant.
Quinn also added that he thinks Eddie is one of those guys who, like an old room mate of Quinn's, has a different body internal clock. He mentioned that his old room mate considered himself better off not to tell people his age. You could argue that guys like Thomas, Francis etc. are also like this, but they did not just come off one of the very best seasons of their entire career. Eddie did. Their statistics and/or numbers of games played has declined in the past 5 years. Eddie's hasn't.
Guys, and Gals, we are priviledged to be watching the best goaltender the Toronto Maple Leafs have had in 35 years.
If Belfour can play without injury this year, then I would be all for bringing him back for one more year. Then, maybe sign a decent starter on a one year deal and watch Rask develop. This kid is really going to be something IMO, he could easily be a Nabokov or Kipper. I think I'm probably a lot higher on him than everyone else, but I guess we will just have to wait and see.
I'd rather see how he does this season before deciding on his status.
If his back problems exacerbate or his play falters then cut him loose.
If he looks alsmost as good as he was pre-lockout, then pick up the option on his contract and give him one final year.
Maybe Ferguson knew what he was doing with Belfour at $2 million next season...
As others said, if he's healthy and still no. 1 starter quality, $2 million is a good deal.
If he stays, we gotta see how far Rask has developed and make plans for a goalie afterwards, either a short term goalie or a long term one. And who knows, perhaps Tellqvist and company can become a solid starter for a year or two, then bring in Rask.
If a guy like Nabokov or Turco is available though, I say go for it, Rask doesn't seem like a goalie who will develop quickly, but I may be wrong.
We should sign Turco next year and not pick up Belfour's option...
I expect that Belfour's option is going to be signed after a great season; therefore, his contract is going to give JFJ tons of flexibility. Consider this:
Regardless of which of the prospects make the team this year, expect the following will make the team next year: Colaiacovo, Tellqvist, Steen, Stajan, Kronwall, Wellwood, and another forward, and potentially another D man. JFJ builds the team around those guys plus the guys under contract like Sundin, O'Neill, Belak and Domi. A roster like this:
x Sundin x
Steen x O'Neill
Stajan Wellwood x
(prospect) x Domi
JFJ fills all of the x's with re-signing RFAs, UFAs and maybe a trade or two. JFJ already will have a ton of cash to fill the x's; Eddie's $2 milion gives JFJ more.
Then, the following year the goaltending position is up for grabs between Tellqvist, Ford, Rask, Racine and Pogge.
If Belfour were to stay next season as well, the year after that Roberto Luongo will become an Unrestricted Free Agent, and unless Florida trades him, I can't see him resigning long term with them, the way the arbitration went down this year. By that time Revenues in the NHL should also be increasing and the cap should start increasing. Anyway you look at it right now the Leafs are sitting pretty next year. If Belfour plays well, you keep him at 2 million and go after Luongo in 2007-2008, if not you throw the wallet at Turco next year.
Keeping Belfour next year would give the flexibility of upgrading the wing and defence positions as well. Of couse this all depends on him still being on top of his game. Plus Telvquist may be ready for a bigger role next year even if Eddie starts to play less games.
Ed-die! Ed-die! Ed-die!
i have faith in him, he saved us way to many times to lose faith in him now.. dunno why every one is so quick to say dont take the team option.. he'd break his back for this team and the leaf fans are the first to say we want some one new, weres the loyality
I thought that if Belfour stayed another season it would be at his current salary and that $2 million is the buyout if the Leafs did not decide to bring him back.
Actually I think you are right. Belfour's contract next year would be $4.56 million. Still a good deal in my opinion, particuarly if the back-up position is very strong.
Regardless, the Leafs have a ton of salary room for next year to sign forwards and D men. With the goalies coming up and Belfour holding the fort I think JFJ would be well advised not to sign a prime UFA goaltender.
im a huge eddie fan i say the longer he plays the better it is he'd be a great mentor to a young big talented goalie liek pogge imo
Pogge went to McKichan's goalie school with Eddie and the Eaglet (Dane Belfour). Eddie is rooming with Todd Ford. I do not think Eddie is ever going to be the kind of guy who will be a best buddy to the guys, but he did talk about justin and Todd describing their assets and said that he had been watching their performance in Camp. Eddie does not strike me as a guy who would volunteer advice but would be very honest and direct if the kids saught it from him.