Monday, June 28, 2004

Leafs prospect busy pumping gas, follows advice of Don Cherry

Credit Maple Leaf prospect Justin Pogge with some common sense, expecting that he wouldn’t go until the fourth round of the NHL draft Pogge elected to take the advice of Hockey sage Don Cherry and stayed home. For many years Cherry has urged young players not to make the trek to the draft unless they were sure they were going in the first two rounds. Why Cherry would ask would you want to sit around for hour upon hour tempting disappointment. For Pogge working at his summer job of pumping gas at a Prince George yacht club, seemed like a much more sensible use of his time. But when he got the call, Pogge was delighted to find out he had been chosen by the Toronto maple leafs as the 90th pick of the 2004 draft.

The Leafs who sat around and watched the New York Rangers pick eight times before taking a microphone in celebration, are happy to have landed the young goaltender from Fort McMurray. Pogge was back up for the under 18 national team when he wasn’t tending the nets as number one in Prince George. He has a highly respected GAA of 2.83 and .901 save percentage, aspects of his game that have the Leaf scouts hoping for success over the long term.

His immediate future when he’s not filling up the mercury engines at the yacht club will be with the Cougars, he’s most likely a few years away from taking to the Air Canada Ice, but the Leaf scouts are high on him and expect good things. Picking up a goal tender became a priority for the Leafs as they only have one contract on file at the moment. Mikael Tellqvist and Trevor Kidd both become restricted free agents this year, while Ed Belfour reaches unrestricted status. Belfour is looking for an expected three year deal for around 20 million dollars.

Pogge would have to pump a fair amount of gas to reach those numbers even with our current high price of fuel. But if all his plans go as expected, one day it will be his agent negotiating with the Leafs for the big three year contract with bonus plateaus. For now it’s pump the gas and dream the dream.

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