Despite the recent acquisition of the best goalie coach in the business, the Leafs decided to divest themselves of Justin Pogge, a 23-year-old goalie prospect, once deemed the Buds goalie of the future.
Going back three summers, Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. needed a veteran goalie immediately. He traded Tuukka Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft. How different things would be if the Leafs had traded Pogge instead of Rask? Actually, Boston had no interest in Pogge and specifically wanted Rask. But in Toronto, most fans felt they had a young goalie already and one who led Canada to the promised land at the 2006 World Junior Championships. The frustration of parting with a first round goalie was offset by the 'good Canadian boy' in the system. One wonders about the hue and cry if Boston had asked for Pogge instead of Rask. Would there have been a lot more noise and a much greater backlash?
Regardless, having a Canadian prospect in the organization helped Ferguson Jr. trade an elite goalie taken in the first round behind only Carey Price. The fact that Boston's scouts had no interest in Pogge, that Rask was a year younger and that he was drafted 69 picks ahead of Pogge (albeit in a different draft) seemed to get overlooked by Torontonians who were blinded by nationalism.
This is not revisionism. At the time, I was livid at the trade despite many repeated attempts by others consoling me with visions of Pogge dancing with the Stanley Cup. Toronto's outrage at Ferguson Jr. should have been much greater, but he played the nationalist card and won the PR battle.
Canadians are not the only ones to suffer from hockey nationalism. Yahoo uber-blogger Greg Wyshynski recently re-tweeted a Twitter comment that Jeremy Roenick wouldn't go to the Hall of Fame because he was American and not Canadian. Wyshynski, an American, appears to feel that there is a pro-Canadian bias in hockey. That may be true but he revealed his own pro-American bias by bringing the subject to the attention of others.
If my American Facebook friends are any indication, David Booth is the second coming of Cam Neely. A number of them have been positively orgasmic over Booth's potential and his inclusion at the American Olympic camp. For someone who turns 25 in November, has one 60 point season under his belt and has an upside of 75 points, nationalism has taken hold and rationalism has been thrown out the window.
These nationalist biases - especially for the mid-level player - can really hurt poolies. The Malkins, the Parises and the Crosbys of this world are usually going to be priced fairly because demand is so high. It's the 55-70 point players that we are more likely to over-pay for. If you are in a pool with Canadians expect to pay anywhere from 5-10% more for a Canadian (a little less if it's an American) than you would a European. It's simply human nature.