Point/Counterpoint: Michael Leighton’s Return

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Welcome to the newest edition of “Point/Counterpoint,” where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes present both sides of one particular issue with their own unique view and flair.

This week Steve J and Hal G debate the Flyers’ decision to bring Michael Leighton back as the backup goaltender. Steve J starts it off.

Steve J: Heeeeere we go again. Michael Leighton is back. Everyone’s favorite Flyers scapegoat has returned from an extended stay in Adirondack. They seriously couldn’t find a better option?

Hal G: I love Leighton. I’m in the minority here, I know that. I also know that I cannot debate the fact that the Flyers could not find a better option, but what I can debate is that Leighton was the best option…for the money.

Steve: I would have been A-OK with the Flyers paying a little more for better quality in this case. Leighton has been okay in the past when he’s been able to get on a bit of a roll, but he’s never been a particularly compelling backup. That said, I’m not even really sold on him as a starter if Ilya Bryzgalov goes down. The prospect is downright terrifying.

Hal: I can understand your concern, and in any normal circumstance, I would say look at Leighton’s track record, but that doesn’t help me here. Bryzgalov has been very durable throughout his career (knock on wood), so I don’t expect Leighton to play more than 15-20 games. Ultimately, Leighton was brought in to be Bryz’s caddy. It was evident last year that Bryzgalov was not comfortable with having former “goalie of the future” Sergei Bobrovsky behind him. Leighton is here because the Flyers know there is no chance that he could supplant Bryz.

Steve: My biggest problem with the Flyers in all of this is that they didn’t even attempt to get a nice professional backup like Scott Clemmensen. They just went right out and signed Leighton for this role. They knew who they wanted for a backup from the start and had no aspirations beyond the man who you call “Big Bear.” Besides, isn’t Bryz terrified of bears!?

Hal: Excellent point, Steven. Michael Leighton is “Big Bear.” Therefore, he will help Bryz get over his fear of bears! Regarding the Flyers search for a “nice professional backup,” I believe Scott Clemmensen re-signed with Florida prior to the Leighton signing. Furthermore, would you have really wanted a Chris Mason in Philadelphia (and for 1.25 AAV)?

Leighton gives you experience and he comes on the cheap. He knows Philadelphia. He is the definition of a folk hero, as he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals (and no, we don’t have to rehash how that ended). Leighton is a true professional, and he will play the role of a great teammate and support for the $51 million dollar man.