Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sanford's baby blue goal pads draw ooh-la-las

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The colour is stunning.

Turns out Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford asked for it.

Sanford, who will return within days from a lower-body injury sustained in practising the shootout, had equipment manufacturers design him a pair of baby blue goal pads this season.

They were in use Saturday morning at Nationwide Arena as Sanford skated with his team. They were rolled out to match the team's third jerseys, which are worn on Saturday nights.

"You have to match, right?" the former Manitoba Moose goalie chuckled after the skate.

He said the pads, similar to the colour of those worn by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury a couple of seasons ago, is a hot topic of conversation at the arena these days.

"I hear about it," Sanford laughed. "Some guys think it's a little bold. Some guys are questioning my sexuality but all in all it's been a 50-50 whether guys like it. I hear about it, and I also hear guys like it."

Slow start for Mason

Sanford's pads are about the only happy goaltending subject around the Blue Jackets these days.

Projected backup Mark Dekanich is hurt again and will be out for a while. He suffered the injury in the warm-up before a conditioning start Friday for Springfield of the AHL.

Starter Steve Mason has struggled mightily again this season with an .866 save percentage heading into Saturday's game, but Columbus coach Scott Arniel said blaming the team's horrible record so far on Mason is wrong.

"That's putting all our problems on one person and I don't think that's totally fair," Arniel said.

Festerling on shelf

The Jets played Saturday's game without defenceman Brett Festerling, who's now out with an upper-body injury.

Coach Claude Noel said Festerling's return will not just be a day or two away. Festerling ran into teammate Jim Slater during Friday's practice in Winnipeg.

That leaves five defenceman on Winnpeg's injured list, including Tobias Enstrom, Randy Jones, Ron Hainsey and Derek Meech.

Rookie Paul Postma took Festerling's place on Saturday night and played 10:04 with two shots on goal.

Nash backs Arniel

Jackets' captain Rick Nash said on Saturday morning, before his team's 2-1 win over the Jets, that things have been very uncomfortable in Columbus with the team's poor start, and that he doesn't care for any of the public and media pressure to remove coach Scott Arniel or make management changes.

"It's tough," Nash said. "Unfortunately I've been through a lot here and it's not a good thing. It's guys' jobs, guys' families and the one thing here is we still believe in what Arnie's doing and what management's doing. We don't want to see any changes."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 13, 2011 B3

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