Crowded Crease? Sabres Begin Title Defense With 3 Goalies - 2/25/2004 11:38:20 AM

It was a Draft that produced many surprises and much shuffling of rosters compared to previous years, but perhaps no move raised more eyebrows than the Lite-Sabres’ selection of long-time Lynx goalie Tony McCarthy. Captain and incumbent netminder Chris McMaster then picked rookie Bill Pope, whom he had heard from his Scouting Department was the best goalie in Junior Floor Hockey. What was McMaster thinking? This question continues to baffle many observers heading into the season’s Opening Week.

McMaster has been uncharacteristically quiet about the issue, and this has fed the speculation even more. Some wonder if the Sabres are headed for a scenario similar to that of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, where 3 goalies battling for one job has led to much locker room dissension. Already there are rumours that McMaster and McCarthy did not speak to each other during the Lite-Sabres training camp, and that Pope’s locker was placed between the two veterans to create some distance between them. “We’re determined not to let this be a distraction”, said one Sabre player, “No matter who’s in net, we have to do the job on the floor”.

Another rumour that has been making the rounds is that McMaster is hurting, and the goalies were drafted as insurance. Could it be a groin problem such as the one that sidelined the Wings’ Dominek Hasek? Again, McMaster would not comment on his groin, saying this was a “private matter”.

Will one of the goalies be used as trade bait? Is McMaster injured? Will the rookie Pope steal the job? Stay tuned. It should be an interesting season for the defending FHL champions.


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