Soo Greyhounds are now on the outside looking in at a playoff spot in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League. Instead of leaving well enough alone, the Greyhounds have started rookie goalie Nick Malik ahead of proven overage Bailey Brkin in seven of nine games since the Czech Republic import landed in Sault Ste. Marie during the second week of January.
And the numbers do not lie.
In his seven starts since donning a Greyhound jersey, Malik has a record of 2-5-0. (And one of the two wins came against the North Bay Battalion, which has the worst record in the entire 20-team OHL.)
Why make the switch to Malik when Brkin had the Greyhounds in a playoff spot as their workhorse starter?
Did Greyhounds management promise Malik a certain amount of playing time when they convinced him to leave the Czech Republic last month to come to the Soo and play in the OHL?
Not so, according to Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis.
“There is nothing guaranteed to Malik based on proportion of games he plays this year. No Greyhound has any clause regarding ice time or starts,” Raftis responded to me.
I get it that Malik, who has a 2002 birth date, is seen as the Greyhounds goalie of the future. But why risk a playoff spot in playing Malik ahead of Brkin when it was the Greyhounds overage goalie who had them in playoff position?
Glowing comments from Greyhounds coach John Dean about how well Malik has played since arriving in the Soo aside, wins and losses are what count.
And to repeat: Malik has a record of 2-5-0.
Even the much-maligned Ethan Taylor — who has been relegated to third string status and has to play a minute for the Greyhounds since Malik’s arrival — has a better record at 3-5-0.
As for Brkin, he has done nothing to deserve being supplanted by Malik. Brkin has a record 14-7-1 on a Greyhounds team that has a record of 23-24-2.
Before Brkin arrived in the Soo via Western Hockey League waivers, since-traded overage Christian Propp had a record of 4-7-1 as the Greyhounds starter.
So, let us do the math.
The Greyhounds have a record of 23-24-2 and are 14-7-1 when Brkin is the goalie.
Without Brkin in net, the Greyhounds have a record of 9-17-1.
Say no more.