Welcome to the Bench: Garret Sparks

Born: 7/28/1993 (23 years old) Elmhurst, Illinois, US
Drafted: 7th round (190th overall) in 2011 by Toronto Maple Leafs
Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs (2015)
Position: Goalie
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 200 lbs
Shoots: Right

2015-16 Stats (Toronto Marlies AHL)
GP   W    L   OTL  SO   SV%    GAA
11      8     2      1       2    0.938    1.90

2015-16 Stats (Toronto Maple Leafs (!!!))
GP   W    L   OTL  SO   SV%    GAA
1      1     0      0      1    1.000    0.00
Hockey DB Profile for Full Career Stats

The Call-Up
November 28, 2015 the Leafs call up goalie Garret Sparks from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

What he brings to the Team:

I have a fever! And the only cure is more Sparks!

That’s the stuff! I don’t want to hear about how it was just one start. I don’t want to hear that he only beat the Edmonton Oilers. This guy’s in the record books. With his win on Monday night he became the first Toronto Maple Leaf to record a shutout in his first career start. For one of the older teams in the NHL, this is unbelievable! Obviously tonight’s game versus the Winnipeg Jets will be a tougher test than the underwhelming Oilers. But with Bernier being sent down to the Marlies to do some soul searching, and Reimer still trying to get back to 100% health, the Leafs may as well see what they have in the kid. I might be a bit more biased than other Leaf fans because I used to love watching him on the Guelph Storm. But after claiming AHL first star of the week on November 8 and starting the season off with a .938 save percentage, he has proven to be more capable than most 7th round picks. Considering this time last year he was playing on the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL (awesome jerseys), it is evident that he has worked his ass off to be here.

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Why he’s on the Bench
As much as I’d like to dream, one start does not make a savior. If Sparks is able to become a full-time NHL backup it will be a tremendous story for the former seventh round pick. Reimer is expected to start tomorrow night’s game versus Minnesota–as he should. When Reimer is back at 100% health he has definitely deserved his shot at the number one gig. I never thought it was fair that the Leafs brought in Bernier, especially right after Reimer stood no his head in the 2012-13 playoff collapse to the Bruins.

If Sparks is nothing more than a backup, he definitely seems to look the part. Between his shaggy hair, awesome pads and angry “Carlton the Bear” mask he definitely looks like a bench warrior.

He’s clearly not afraid to use the body.

And he’s no stranger to Guitar Hero.

After one NHL start under his belt, who’s to know if Sparks is a legitimate NHL goalie? He is in a profession in which he has to be among the 60 best in the world just to keep his job. It’s far too early to tell what he is, so let’s tone down our expectations and enjoy the ride.

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