What can Josh Harris do for the Devils?

Over the last several years, Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek has been trying to keep the team from bankruptcy. He bought out his former co-owners and refinanced his team’s debt. Still, payments never came in on time. Speculation is roaming that the team and Vanderbeek are now around $200 million in debt.

Rumors surfaced that the NHL was getting ready to take temporary control of the money-strapped franchise — the way they had with the Phoenix Coyotes. However, Commissioner Gary Bettman shot down any such rumors, leaving the Devils’ future in suspended limbo.

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After missing the playoffs for the second time in five years, the Devils may now have financial stability to look forward to.

Almost simultaneously, new rumors emerged that billionaire Josh Harris, current owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, was ready and willing to buy the team. If Harris buys the team, or at least makes himself a co-owner of the team, he will most certainly get the team out of their financial troubles.

The thought of a man from the Philadelphia area owning the Devils will worry a large part of the Devils fan base, not surprising considering the Devils and Flyers rivalry is one of the most intense in the NHL, but if the Devils fans can look beyond his ties to Philadelphia, they will see how much this will benefit the Devils in the future.

Perhaps the two most important things that will come about if Harris purchases the Devils are, as stated before, that the team will be out of debt and will be ready and willing to spend money to put a consistent contender on the ice. The team will also stay in New Jersey for the foreseeable future.

One other thing that worries Devils fans is the performance of the Sixers under Harris’s tenure. Since purchasing the team in July of 2011, Philadelphia has not managed to win more than 35 games in a regular season and missed the playoffs this last season.

However, the blame most definitely falls on the general manager and coaching staff. Comparing the accomplishments of Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie to those of Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t even fair. Regardless of who owns the Devils, Lamoriello puts a consistent contender on the ice season in and season out. This will not change if Harris purchases the Devils.

Compared to how long it took him to buy the Sixers, the negotiations with Vanderbeek are speeding along and a deal seems imminent in the near future, which is finally some great news for the Devils and their fans who haven’t had much to celebrate this summer.

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Who gets the start in the Maple Leafs’ goal?

It has been no secret that one of the many weaknesses of the Toronto Maple Leafs over the last decade has been goaltending. After losing Curtis Joseph back in 2002, the Leafs have never found a consistent starting goaltender.

Since Joseph left, the revolving door in net saw names such as Ed Belfour, Mikael Tellqvist, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Andrew Raycroft, Justin Pogge, Scott Clemmensen, Vesa Toskala, Joey MacDonald and 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere have all come and gone having not been the answer the organization was looking for.

Over the last few seasons, however, the Maple Leafs were starting to find some positives among three young goaltenders in James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, and Jonas Gustavsson. Before the start of the 2013 season, Gustavsson departed for Detroit, leaving Scrivens and Reimer to battle it out for the number one goaltending spot. Reimer won out and played spectacularly during the regular season and was one of the main reasons why the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Despite losing to the Boston Bruins in a devastating Game Seven collapse, Reimer made a case for him to be the go-to-guy for the Leafs in the future. Yet, in the offseason, the Leafs made a big splash; a trade sent backup Scrivens to Los Angeles in return for the Kings’ backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

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Reimer’s stellar 2013 regular season was drowned out by the Bruins’ Game Seven upset. Does that mean he should lose the starting job to Bernier?

Bernier has been considered the best backup goaltender in the NHL, and if the Kings didn’t have a Conn Smythe Trophy winner of their own in Jonathan Quick, he would most definitely have been the starting goaltender. Opportunities were limited for Bernier in Los Angeles — despite him winning a Stanley Cup — and now he has a chance to take the starting position right out of Reimer’s hands.

The problem for Bernier is that Reimer had arguably the best season of his career despite being injured last season. He set career marks in save percentage (.924) and goals against average (2.46). In 104 regular season appearances over the last three seasons, Reimer sits at 53-32-14 with 10 shutouts. Not spectacular stats, but certainly respectable.

Meanwhile in L.A., Bernier never played in more than 25 games in one season. Having made 62 appearances since 2007, he compiled a record of 29-20-6 with 6 shutouts. He too may have peaked last season when he went 9-3-1. He played a big part in keeping the Kings afloat after a very rough start to the season.

Head coach Randy Carlysle has a tough choice to make. Does he stay with the steadily improving Reimer who has proven that he can be the starter if he stays healthy, or does he take a gamble and lean towards Jonathan Bernier?

The right choice would be to start with the player who helped get the team into the playoffs: Reimer, who should have earned Carlysle’s trust by now. Should he falter — or be outplayed by Bernier — then Bernier should rightfully get the nod over Reimer.

Either way, for the first time in a long time, the Leafs will have a formidable duo in goal. If both goalies play the way they are capable of, then this Maple Leafs team has the chance to not only get back into the playoffs, but to be a contender as well.