Golden Knights’ Garret Sparks records shutout in preseason debut

After a year to forget with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Garret Sparks is ready to start anew with the Vegas Golden Knights — and he’s off to a good start.

In his preseason debut with his new club, the 26-year-old netminder posted a shutout in the Knights’ 5-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, stopping all 24 shots he faced and coming up with big saves en route to the win.

Competing with Malcolm Subban, who stopped 28 of 30 shots in Sunday’s 6-2 preseason victory over Arizona, for the backup spot behind Marc-Andre Fleury, Sparks is coming off a rough 2018-19 campaign with the Maple Leafs, where he went 8-9-1 with a .315 GAA and .902 save percentage in 20 games.

He had signed a one-year, $750,000 extension with Toronto in March, but things fell apart when his woes continued and most prominently when he expressed disappointment in his team’s effort and called Toronto out for a “lack of emotion” following a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators later in the month. He received criticism and backlash for his comments — that had good intentions but would have been better said by someone else — and subsequently, he was given 10 days to “refocus” and “get his game back” before being removed from the team prior to their first-round series against the Boston Bruins.

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In July, the Leafs dealt him to Vegas in exchange for David Clarkson’s contract to not only create cap space but provide Sparks with a change of scenery that would benefit both parties.

Sparks has played in 37 career games, going 14-18-2 and posting a 3.09 GAA and .898 save percentage. In 2018, he won the Calder Cup with the Toronto Marlies, as well as the Baz Bastien Memorial Award, given to the AHL goaltender of the year. He and Calvin Pickard also combined for the league’s lowest GAA, winning them the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award.

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