Sparks was returned to AHL Toronto on Sunday, James Mirtle of The Athletic reports. Sparks was called up Saturday as an emergency backup for a game against the Senators. Curtis McElhinney was said to be dealing with a minor ailment, though he still made the start and ended up going the distance in that road win while No. 1 tender Frederik Andersen rested. Sparks has done reasonably well in the minors this season, posting a 5-5-0 record in addition to a 2.04 GAA and .925 save mark.
Sparks was recalled from AHL Toronto on Saturday. James Mirtle of The Athletic reports the move was made because Curtis McElhinney apparently has sustained a minor (undisclosed) injury. Sparks has yet to make his season debut this season. A November suspension for violating team policy -- which was handed down following his inappropriate actions in an online forum -- seemingly put him in a deep hole in terms of his NHL development. Last season, he went 6-9-1 with a 3.02 GAA and .893 save percentage, so there's really nothing to get excited about, even in the off-chance that Sparks draws the start against the Senators on Saturday.
Sparks is back with AHL Toronto after his suspension, as he started Sunday's win over AHL Hartford, making 30 saves on 33 shots. He hasn't drawn a start since, but Sparks' temporary ban for a vulgar blow-up online is done. The bigger problem for Sparks is that he's just one guy in a big crew of AHL goalies that includes Jhonas Enroth, Karri Ramo and Jeff Glass, while Frederik Andersen isn't likely to give up starting duties for the Leafs anytime soon.
Sparks is facing an indefinite suspension from the Maple Leafs, having violated team policy for "directing violent and sexist language toward a user in an online group," TSN reports. The alleged incident reportedly took place Nov. 22, and Sparks was deemed unavailable to the AHL's Marlies both Friday and Saturday. Until this incident, he had been best known for recording a shutout over the Oilers in his NHL debut last November.
Sparks is expected to get the start in goal in Thursday's preseason matchup with Buffalo, Paul Hendrick of Leafs TV reports. Sparks appears poised to begin the season as AHL Toronto's primary netminder with Jhonas Enroth serving as Frederik Andersen's backup, so Thursday's contest will give the 23-year-old netminder an opportunity to see some action at the NHL level before being sent to the minors. The 2011 seventh-round pick struggled in limited action with the big club last season, compiling a 6-9-1 record with an ugly 3.00 GAA and .893 save percentage over 17 appearances, and stands to benefit from a full season in the AHL.
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