Child, defenceman Jeff Finger was dreaming to wear the uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs. His dream was realized, but this was rather a nightmare.
This is what the 40 year old man told the web site sports The Athletic, Friday.
On July 1, 2008, Finger became a free agent. He had spent the last five seasons in the organization of the Colorado Avalanche, playing in a part of the last two seasons in the national hockey League.
The Avalanche wanted to keep it and several other teams have made him offers, including the formation of the Queen City. The offer of the Leafs was very generous (four years and $ 14 million) for a rear that had not yet played 100 games in the circuit Bettman.
“To be honest with you, yes [I was surprised], said Finger. I knew that there would be a demand. […] When the figures have started to return, I was… I mean, I think everyone was quite surprised. It was exciting.”
The toronto media have also been surprised by this agreement and have immediately criticized the general manager Cliff Fletcher.
“I know that Cliff has taken a lot of criticism when he made me sign, remembered the Finger. But it was the market at the time. There was not a lot of free agents, and it is as big as it gets.”
The association between the Leafs and Finger is poorly primed, so that he had to miss the majority of training camp and the first month of the 2008-2009 season due to a fracture to a foot.
The Leafs were not very good, and in November of that year, Fletcher was replaced by Brian Burke. The new DG had no Finger in high esteem and coach Ron Wilson either.
“Wilson and I, we didn’t have the best of relationships, has expressed the defender. […] There were many factors that came into play, but after the second year, the Leafs had acquired a group of defenders who were making a lot of money, like me.”
Following the 2009-2010 season, the direction of the Maple Leafs decided to send him to the minor leagues and he was never recalled after that.
“From a business standpoint, I understood, and admitted Finger. I’m sort of handcuffed by signing this contract. It was difficult for me to exchange or do anything. And then, if you don’t play in the top 4 and you earn so much money, you know that you’re going to do show the way out.”
Bitter, Finger think it was still a lot of hockey in front of him.
“I’ve had the change to sign that contract, but I still had a little bit of hockey in me when I was buried in the minors.”
After two seasons and a few injuries in the american League with the Marlies in Toronto, Finger has hung up his skates, reluctantly.