Does this sound at all familiar to you?
“Belak’s minutes are way down, he only played six-plus minutes last night and didn’t get in at all in the third period. He thinks this stems from him skipping optional skate Thursday in New Jersey (he thought he was playing that night instead of being a healthy scratch because of Kamil Kreps) and for not fighting and sticking up for Nick Boynton after he got beat up pretty good in his scrap with Milan Lucic. ”I tried to fight guys there and they refused to go,” Belak said. “What do they want me to do, fight and take a penalty? We were trying to win that game. I’m not a rookie.” Also: “They bring me down here to play, and I’ve seen my time dwindle from eight minutes to three shifts a game,” Belak said. ”I’m not a liability. I’m tired of hearing how we need offense. Other tough guys play and are contributing. It’s tough to fight from the bench.”
Sounds like a familiar story for Belak, despite a lot of sun, doesn’t seem that too much has changed in Wade’s World.
Listen even to his GM, a familiar foe to Leaf fans, Jacques Martin:
“Obviously, I’m not happy with the club’s performance so far,” Martin said Saturday night. “We need to change some things. Maybe that’s a start. We need to perform better. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see if he clears.” I asked JM why Belak since he doesn’t play a whole lot as it is: “He’s not playing a lot of minutes, not playing every game. This indicates we want to change things. It’s part of the business. People have to realize things are too comfortable around here. “This is part of the whole situation. I thought we turned a corner winning in Anaheim and Tampa. We lost to Detroit, but that’s a great team. Then we won our first game [at Tampa] on the road [before losing two straight]. We need to play better, get more urgency in our game.”
All I can say from a far is that with a lot of passengers on the bus, hard to imagine that Belak is the problem right? Except, is there more to the story. Was Belak part of the locker-room problem here in TO???? I don’t know the answer, but I do know Cliff shipped him out pretty quickly. I also know that Cliff was quick to say “no chance” when asked if he would pick up Belak on waivers (thank god). Interesting banter in any event….
I love this last part….
“”We’ll wait to see what happens on Monday. If he gets picked up, I don’t have to deal with it. If he doesn’t get picked up, I have the flexibility to send him down. It’s not a money issue. We’re trying to get the team to understand they need more urgancy in their game.”
So let’s get this straight, JM is trying to get his team to understand the need for more urgency by waiving Belak???? Sorry, I can’t stop laughing. For the record, Belak has played in 14 games this year. In 2 games he had more then 10 shifts, 11 and 12 respectively. Only 2x has he played more then 8 minutes (8:11 and 8:03). After that, he had 2 games where he had just over 6 minutes on the ice (6:40 and 6:41). The rest of his games his ice time ranged from a high of 4:59 to :42…that’s 42 seconds… I don’t know, maybe a panther fan can answer this, but how can waiving a guy who is averaging 4:21 of playing time a game show anything other then pointing the finger at the wrong guy? I mean, if you want to say he can’t play anymore, that is fine (I said that about Belak 5 years ago). To say that you are going to make him the scapegoat is NUTS… Look guys we are going to waive the guy we don’t play….ooooohhhhhh….What’s the lesson?
Meanwhile, for a real laugh, check out the message board on a panther beat writer’s article…. Looks like the fans love this guy Gorten as much as we do Howie….
For more on Belak check out George Richards awesome blog here…