Sports

No decision on return to game action for Marlies goalie Sparks after team suspension

TORONTO — Garret Sparks was back on the Ricoh Coliseum ice on Tuesday morning skating with his teammates, but his return to the Toronto Marlies lineup remains uncertain.

The Marlies sent Sparks home following its 3-1 loss in Albany, N.Y., last Tuesday. Head coach Sheldon Keefe said the 23-year-old goaltender was punished for team policy reasons.

Sparks, who is active on social media, reportedly used inappropriate language when posting a Facebook group which he is an administrator for.

"He's back with the team, (but) he's not with the main group," Keefe said ahead of Tuesday night's game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. "We've been balancing a number of goalies since we started really. He's with the not (playing) group, skating working out — all that kind of stuff."

Keefe added he's waiting for management to clear Sparks to return to game action. After Tuesday's contest the Marlies play three games in three nights, beginning in Rochester on Friday.

Sparks was not made available to the media on Tuesday.

Goaltenders Antoine Bibeau and Jeff Glass will dress for the Maple Leafs affiliate on Tuesday.

Sparks is 3-1-0 in four appearances this season posting a 2.02 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

Veteran forward Brooks Laich didn't speak to Sparks about the incident, but as an active social media user he had advice for his young teammate.

"I don't think emotions should ever get involved on social media," Laich said. "I think that's where things can go wrong. Sometimes it's hard to turn the other cheek. I wouldn't say that everybody that uses social media is using it properly or for the right (purpose). There can be traps that you get involved in.

"Just leave emotion out of it, and always be aware the Internet is forever."

Originally Toronto's seventh-round pick at the 2011 NHL Draft, Sparks made his NHL debut last season with a 22-save shutout of the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 30.

In 17 NHL games the Elmhurst, Ill., native went 6-9-1 while posting a 3.02 GAA and an .898 save percentage.

Following the expiration of his entry-level contract last July, the Maple Leafs signed Sparks to a one-year, two-way contract.