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Magazine excerpt: Year of the Crow

by Bob Verdi / Chicago Blackhawks

The following is excerpted from the March/April 2016 issue of Blackhawks Magazine. Pick up the newest issue of the magazine at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at 312-759-0079.


 

Are you aware that Tony Esposito and Glenn Hall, another Hall of Famer, both say they don't miss one minute of playing in goal?

(Laugh.) Tony played a long time. He had 15 shutouts in his rookie year wearing those little brown pads. Glenn Hall, all those games in a row without wearing a mask. Amazing. I'm not there yet. It's still fun. But think about it. Even before you play in the NHL, you play all those games growing up. Then it starts to get competitive and you think about how it might turn into something, a career. Think about all the shots you take, all the pucks you face, including practice.

But pucks in practice don't matter.

They don't matter? What do you mean they don't matter? Just because they don't count in the standings or on the scoreboard? Guys practice hard. You get hit in the head or in the ribs during practice, it matters. It still hurts. You still feel it. So yeah, I can see how guys like Esposito and Hall can retire happily ever after. But like I said, I'm not near there yet. Still having too much fun.

Your teammates like playing in front of you. Do you feel that?

I hope they're confident in me. I don't think about it. If I'm thinking about that during the game, I'm in the wrong position, the wrong place. If you're wondering whether your teammates are confident in you, you're in trouble. That means you don't have confidence in yourself.

One reason you've earned respect is that you never throw anybody under the bus. You don't glare at a teammate after a mistake. Every goal is your fault, even if it isn't your fault.

That's a strong word, fault. It's hard enough to play this game. You don't need your goalie screaming at you or criticizing you. I watch the game, how incredibly fast it is, how tough it is, particularly for our defensemen. I used to get pissed off at guys in junior. But there are so many plays in a game, so many games. So a guy gets burned at the blue line. So a guy gives the puck up. He knows it. He doesn't need me to remind him. You wind up realizing you don't play the only difficult position out there.

Do you sometimes think you're the only goalie who ever lets in a soft goal?

(Laugh.) It used to bother me. What fans said, what the media wrote, it got to me. No more. Why am I paying attention to these opinions? To be fair, I did give up more soft goals my first couple years. Then I went through that thing in 2013. At the start of the playoffs, I was criticized for being weak on my blocker side. Then by the time we got to the Final against Boston, I was weak on my glove side. So I guess I was weak on both sides. I don't know. What's the point? It's like breaking a stick over the boards when you have to get pulled from a game. To accomplish what? To make a scene?

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