Goalie Tom Barrasso's demotion to Rochester Americans of the American League likely will be a short one and he'll rejoin Buffalo Sabres next week. However, it appears that the rift between Barrasso and Sabre boss Scotty Bowman could take longer to heal.
Best rookie, top goalie and first-team all-star last season in a remarkable National Hockey League debut directly from New England high school hockey, Barrasso started slowly this term with two wins and three losses in six starts and a 4.09 goals-against average.
In his last game with the Sabres, a 7-3 loss to Detroit Red Wings, Barrasso was lifted for an extra attacker when the Wings led, 4-3, in the final minute. After the Wings scored the clincher goal into the empty goal, Barrasso started to leave the bench to return to the net, a standard practice, but Bowman pulled him back, finishing the game with no goalie, and the Wings scored twice more.
A source close to the Sabres says that Barrasso saw that as a Bowman cheap-shot about his play.
Bowman claimed that pressure on Barrasso because of the Canada Cup, in which he was goalie for Team USA, contributed to his slow start.
"The mental pressure can be rough and influence your play when you're 19," Bowman said. "Being sent down was a big blow to him but he played his best game of the season in his first start at Rochester (a 4-1 win over Sherbrooke)."
Barrasso's views on the incident aren't known. Bowman ordered Barrasso not to talk with reporters in Rochester.
After excelling for the U.S. team through the round-robin segment of the Canada Cup, Barrasso had a nightmare evening when the U.S. lost, 9-2, to Sweden in the semifinal game.
He removed himself from the contest when the Swedes took a 4-0 lead and refused to return to action, despite the efforts of U.S. coach Bob Johnson to persuade him to go back on the ice. They had a heavy argument under the stands at Edmonton Coliseum as Johnson tried to tell him that he would be tagged as "a quitter" if he didn't return.
Chico Resch finished the game for the U.S. squad.
After the game, Barrasso was involved in a minor physical exchange in an Edmonton bar with two Swedish players, who needled him about the game. U.S. defenceman Rod Langway broke up the potentially nasty incident.
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