The Philadelphia Flyers lavished a three-year, $12.3 million contract extension on goaltender Steve Mason.
This begged some questions, like “Shouldn’t he be playing at a much higher level to get that money?” and “How much interest would Mason have stirred as a free agent?”
True, Mason has revived his career since arriving from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade. His career started wonderfully in mid-Ohio, then took a disastrous wrong turn.
The change of scenery did him some good. He finished last season on a strong note and played brilliantly early this season.
That led to contract extension talks.
“I’m just happy that it’s out of the way and I don’t have to focus on that anymore,” Mason told CSN Philly. “I can just look forward to being here for the next number of years and try to get this team into a position where we are in the playoffs and can make a long run and eventually reach the goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
But as this season ground on, some familiar problems arose for Mason. After posting goals-against averages of 2.25 and 1.94 during the first two months of the season, his GAA rose to 2.92 and 3.32 the last two months.
In fairness to Mason, the Flyers haven’t been playing wonderfully in front of him. For instance, their effort was sporadic during a 3-2 loss to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
“We probably got what we deserved tonight,” Mason told reporters after the game. “We’re not playing well enough to win hockey games. Again, the third period, we need to be better.
“We can’t keep relying on these comebacks to get us out of jams. We have to play a better, full 60 minutes.”
Also, Mason needs to stop pucks and start earning that big deal. These days he is looking a lot more like the player who washed out of Columbus.