What if the Soo Greyhounds were in the Eastern Conference instead of the Western Conference? What if Greyhounds coach John Dean hadn’t messed with goal-tending that was already in good hands?
Let us begin with the fact that heading into Ontario Hockey League play this week, the Greyhounds are in ninth place in the Western Conference and are outside of a playoff spot with 60 points from a record of 28-31-4.
However, if the Greyhounds were in the Eastern Conference with that record, they would be in sole possession of sixth place and just a few points out of fifth.
Well, there is no getting around the fact that the Western Conference is once again superior to the Eastern Conference. And as the Greyhounds are currently in position to miss the playoffs in the Western Conference, they would have already clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference.
And for sure, that really sucks.
What also sucks is that in mid January, the Greyhounds were actually in possession of a Western Conference playoff spot with a record of 20-19-2, thanks in a big way to the play of overage goalie Bailey Brkin.
When the Hounds were 20-19-2 in mid January, it was largely because of Brkin, who had a record of 13-7-1 as opposed to the combined totals of 7-12-1 with Ethan Taylor and Christian Propp between the pipes.
Simply put, Brkin had been a workhorse saviour for the Greyhounds after arriving in the Soo in mid October via Western Hockey League waivers.
At any rate, the Hounds were in a playoff spot in mid January with that record of 20-19-2 when rookie goalie Nick Malik arrived from the Czech Republic to a welcome from team management that included a giant billboard in the Bay St. parking lot of GFL Memorial Gardens.
What happened since has been cause for consternation among Greyhound fans, supporters and a media person, namely yours truly.
Whether by prior arrangement or secret deal — or maybe something else — Malik was basically handed the starting job over Brkin by aforementioned Hounds coach John Dean.
And it didn’t matter that Malik lost his first four decisions as a Greyhound — he kept getting the majority of the games over Brkin.
And the results say it all.
Since putting on a Greyhound jersey in mid January, Malik has a win-loss record of 4-11-0 — which is the worst of any goalie who has suited up for the Hounds this season.
And as Malik’s mark is 4-11-0, Brkin has a record of 4-1-2 since his new Czech mate arrived in town.
Regardless of what spin that anyone associated with the Greyhounds tries to put on the goalie situation and regardless of anyone who chooses to ignore the obvious, the numbers do not lie.
Going into play this week, Brkin has a record of 17-8-3 and Malik has a record of 4-11-0.
When Malik arrived in the Soo, the Greyhounds were in a playoff position with a record of 20-19-2.
Since then, the Hounds have a record of 8-12-2 — 4-11-0 with Malik in net and 4-1-2 with Brkin between the pipes.
Say no more.
At least for now.
PHOTO: Soo Greyhounds goalie Bailey Brkin.