It feels like summer is flying by. Our first round of summer camps at Powertech just wrapped up last week, and the second set is set to start next week. For me personally, I’ve been coaching almost nonstop since the beginning of last season. You know that feeling when the days start to blend together and you’re not really sure where one week ends and the next begins?
I know some of you guys are in a similar situation. You played a long season; maybe you made it deep into the playoffs. Then once you finished you may have played spring hockey in a league or tournament team. After that, summer camps were about ready to begin. See where I’m going with this?
I got to the point where I knew if I didn’t take some time for myself, to get away from the rink and the gym, the quality of my work would suffer. I wouldn’t be able to maintain that same level of passion and focus.
So I took off. I certainly could have had a full coaching and training schedule if I had stayed, but it wouldn’t have been the best thing for me or for the people who entrust me with their health and wellness or their development. Now I know that when I get back, I’ll be recharged and ready to give my best again.
I would encourage you guys to think about your game this way as well. More is not always better. Even the best players in the world take some time at the end of their seasons to rest and recover from the grind of the year. It’s essential for your mental and physical wellbeing. You don’t have to take a vacation to the other side of the world, but ensure you have time away from the game. Hockey shouldn’t feel like a chore.
As for me, I’m enjoying my time down here in South Carolina, right on the coast. I’m enjoying waking up with the sun and having nothing on the agenda. It’s about 100 degrees outside but the breeze off the ocean feels great.
The NHL Playoffs are in full swing at this point! At the time I’m writing this post, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals have both been incredible series’.With this in mind, I wanted to take the opportunity to have a look at the four starting goaltenders left in these Playoffs, and have a look at the unique paths they took to get to where they are now. Here they are, in no particular order.
Brian Elliot- St. Louis Blues
Brian Elliot went undrafted in the OHL and instead played Junior A hockey in Ajax. After a solid season, Elliot was drafted 291st overall in 2003 by the Ottawa Senators. He was the 2nd last pick of the entire draft, taken in a round that no longer even exists. He chose to go to university, and served as the backup for his first two seasons before winning the starting position, and having two standout seasons for the University of Wisconsin. He was offered an AHL contract by the Binghamton Senators, and earned AHL All-Star honours. He eventually earned a shot with Ottawa, and made the most of his opportunity, earning a full time NHL job. He was traded to Colorado in 2011, where he struggled, and was not offered a contract. The following summer, he was signed by the St. Louis Blues. He hasn’t looked back, earning two NHL All-Star appearances and holding onto the starting position despite runs at the job from two solid goalies in Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen.
Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks
Jones also went undrafted in the NHL after two seasons as a backup goalie for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. He went to the Los Angeles Kings rookie camp as a free agent, and made the most of his opportunity, with the Kings signing Jones to a 3 year contract before sending him back to the Hitmen. Following his junior career, Jones spent most of his first 3 seasons in the AHL where he put up excellent numbers, finally earning a backup role before being traded to the Bruins and then, later that same day, to the Sharks. This season, he has led the Sharks to the Conference Finals, defeating his former team, the Kings, and a formidable Nashville Predators team along the way.
Ben Bishop- Tampa Bay Lightning
Despite being drafted in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Blues and being considered a top prospect, Ben Bishop struggled to develop in the first several years of his career. He ultimately earned the backup job in 2012 but was traded later that year to the Ottawa Senators. He was not in Ottawa for long, being traded to Tampa Bay at the deadline of that season. Since coming to the Bolts, Bishop has solidified himself as a premier goalie, leading the Lightning to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
Matt Murray – Pittsburgh Penguins
Murray was taken in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. He quickly became one of the top goaltending prospects in the league, setting an AHL rookie record for shutouts (10) and a league record shutout streak of 304 minutes and 11 seconds. Since then he has excelled at the NHL level whenever he has had the opportunity. Starting the final 9 games of the season in place of an injured Marc-Andre Fleury, Murray has been a rock for the Penguins in the post season with a playoff GAA of 1.74 and a save percentage of .939. Fleury is now healthy, but the run Murray is on has given the Penguins no reason to make the switch in goal just yet.
The common theme amongst all of these goaltenders is that they’ve all gone through periods of adversity. Whether it was having periods of poor play, getting passed on by a team, or having someone with more experience ahead of them on the depth chart. The other thing that they have in common is perseverance. It would have been very easy to give up on their goals during these tough times, but instead of giving up, they chose to work harder. As a result, when the opportunity came to show what they could do, they were ready for it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a roadblock is the end of the road. There will always be a way around it, or through it. Take adversity as a challenge and use it to inspire you to work harder than you ever have.
As you enjoy watching some awesome playoff hockey over the next few weeks, keep in mind that, just a few years ago, some of these goalies did not even have a team to play on. Now they’re each 8 wins away from winning the Stanley Cup.
What can you do TODAY that will put you one step closer to your goal? What bit of adversity can you draw inspiration from to bring out the best in yourself? The season is only a few short months away. Take that inspiration, and make the next season the best you’ve ever had!
Spring is officially here! I don’t know about you guys, but this is my favourite time of year. Minor hockey season is wrapping up, just in time to be home in the evenings to watch the NHL playoff push. It’s starting to get warmer, which means fun outdoor things like baseball or golf or soccer (I guess, if you like that sort of thing).
Spring also means one more important thing is coming along. Tryouts. As if the grind of the season wasn’t enough, now you’ve got to hit the ice again in hopes of either moving up a level or keeping your job from last year.
Remember, there are no guaranteed spots. There’s always somebody after your position. What you decided to do (or not do) in the month or so between the season ending and tryouts could very well make the difference between making a team or having to listen to that “better luck next year” talk. In an earlier post, we talked about having a plan to take care of our body over the course of the long off season, but what about our on-ice, goalie specific skills that we’ve worked so hard to fine tune over the course of the year?
I’ve done many tryout evaluations in the past, and I can say for sure it was pretty easy to pick out the goalies who hadn’t been on the ice since their seasons had ended. Their footwork was sloppy and their reactions were slow. I’ve seen some very good goalies be released in favour of goalies who may have been less talented, but had invested in getting better leading up to tryouts. They were rewarded for their effort.
So what should you do? Some goalies choose to play in spring tournaments or 3 on 3 spring leagues, and those are fine to have some fun and make new friends, but if you’re looking to improve your game and get better as a goaltender, you’ll want to be in a more controlled environment with a qualified coach who can objectively assess your game, and work on the areas you need the most improvement.
The weather is getting warmer and tryouts will be here before you know it. Don’t wait until it’s too late to decide you want to be the goalie that gets noticed during tryouts. Make the investment today in yourself and your game, so you can walk into tryouts confident, knowing you’re the most prepared goalie in the room.
P.S. If you’re in the Windsor-Essex region and you want to go into next season with no holes in your game, contact me and we will put together a bulletproof development plan for you!
Last week, former NHL goalie and current Sportsnet analyst Corey Hirsch did a segment on goalie equipment worn today, and outlined ways he thinks it should change in order to increase the number of goals scored in a game. The argument is that goalies wear more equipment than they need to, in order to increase the amount of area they take up in the net. While it may be true that goaltenders in the past have looked for ways to get the extra advantage when it comes to their gear (look at some old pictures of Garth Snow), every piece of goal equipment now is held to a league-wide standard.
Following the last lockout, goalies made concessions on the size of their gear. The pads and gloves were made smaller, as well as a few other changes to how the pads could be worn etc. As a result, goalies took up less room in the net, as the league wanted, and you would think this would have led to an increase in scoring. Except it didn’t. Goalies were now lighter and faster than they had been in years, and scoring continued to decrease. That’s what has sparked the recent debates about making the net bigger.
I don’t believe the NHL is going to change the size of the net. It is too fundamental a part of the game. However I do believe more changes are coming, inevitably, to the size of the goalie gear. If you watch the segment by Hirsch, some of the changes he outlines would leave goalies exposed in areas that I believe are a safety concern, such as the shoulders with the removal of the shoulder flap, and the knee with his proposed shortening (even more) the height of the thigh rise. There are some points that are worth exploring though. I think the size of the goal pants is something that can be addressed without risking injury to the goalie. I also think the size of the shoulder floaters has gotten a bit ridiculous. Speaking from personal experience, a lot of the most recent incarnations of chest and arm gear that I have tried on have had the “shoulder” protection go all the way down to the stomach. It felt next to impossible to move around in. With the advancement of the materials available today, I think we can remove some of the bulk with the chest and arm and still be adequately protected.
Watch the video for yourself, and let me know in the comments what you think. What do you agree with? What would you do differently?
It’s Family Day up here in Canada, so I’ll keep my post short. I want you guys to take this day to spend time with the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and whoever it is that helps make your hockey happen.
This time of year it’s very easy to get caught up in the frantic routine of playoffs/playdowns, getting ready for spring tryouts, getting signed up for summer sports etc., but there will be plenty of days left to worry about that. Take a minute to thank the ones who’re spending their hard-earned money to allow you to play the game you love, waking up at 5am to get you to practices on time, driving to the middle-of-nowhere for your games, and buying your new set of pads every year because you just keep growing!
It’s hockey families that really keep the game going, so on Family Day, take a second to let them know you really appreciate what they do.
At this point in the year, most teams are well into their playoffs, and the end of the season is approaching. Your body has been through a lot since the season began in the fall! We don’t often stop to think that over the course of a season, between games, practices, tournaments, and extra ice, you may be on the ice for as much as 150+ hours. Now taking into account that goalies face, on average, about 25 shots per game, and roughly 200 shots each practice, it’s easy to see how important it is to take care of our body, and that is a year round commitment.
If you haven’t realized it yet, it takes more than showing up for practices and games to become a better goaltender. If you’ve gone out of your way to seek out extra coaching and on ice help, congratulations! You’re one of the top 10% or so who’s willing to make that extra investment into your game; but what about investing in the machine that makes it all happen? If you’ve ever experienced an injury in your career, you know that it only takes one part to not be 100% to mess up the whole chain of movement we need as goalies.
The article I want to share today is one by Maria Mountain of HockeyTrainingPro.com. She’s a strength and conditioning coach with a passion for helping goalies. I’ve definitely incorporated a lot of what she’s taught me into my workouts over the years. The article lays out what your priorities should be in an off ice workout program, and what order they should happen in. It is by no means a comprehensive program, but it is what the framework of a program should look like.
P.S. If this information is all new to you, and you’re just thinking about getting started with off ice workouts, shoot me an email and we can discuss how to get started on the right foot. It’s always better to start building good habits from scratch than to try to replace bad habits with good ones, so let’s work together to make sure you get started on the right foot!
I’m very excited to finally be able to share this with all of you. I created this site because I wanted to have a platform where I could reach more of you at once, with more information than we have time to cover in our time together. For those of you who work with me on a regular basis, whether we’re working 1 on 1, or I come to your team practice, a typical session goes something like this:
You come in the door to the rink, say hi on your way by, and head into the dressing room
Once you’re ready, we head on the ice together, and you get a solid hour of learning, hard work, and skill refinement
We finish, and you’re back in the room to take off your gear
You say bye on the way out and our time together is done
Even if you remember every single thing we go over in our time together (which is asking a lot), there are so many more things that go into becoming a great athlete, goalie, and person.
This is where I’ll be sharing information like that, and I couldn’t be more excited.
If you’ve found your way here via my Facebook page, keep checking it, as I will be posting links to the newest content on the site.