20240517 - Eric Raymond

MONTREAL – Canadiens goalie coach Eric Raymond ran a three-goalie system for most of the 2023-24 campaign.

While having that many netminders on an NHL roster was not traditional in approach, the situation did provide some upside. According to Raymond, it made way for plenty of quality one-on-one time with Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau.

The veteran coach took some time to answer fan questions from Instagram to provide more insight into his role with the Habs.

This interview was conducted on November 15, 2023. Questions and answers were modified for clarity and conciseness.

max_avrutin asks: How long have you worked in this field? And why did you choose to be a coach?

I've been working in this field full-time for 15 years, but I started goalie coaching when I was 17, so it’s been 34 years total.

I grew up with the Allaire brothers, Benoit and Francois, who were my coaches at the time. I worked with them when I was 15 and I started doing hockey schools with them at 17 years old, so they passed down their passion to me, their techniques, their ability to understand what to do and why they were doing it, and so on.

soso.rosoo asks: Eric, do you have a favorite drill to work on with your goalies?

There’s one in particular: the “go to puck” drill. I think that’s a self-made-up term. I stand far enough away, and the goalies must wait patiently to see where the puck is headed before making their move. It forces them to react to where the puck is going, because sometimes they react before the shot is even released. This drill forces them to wait.

jacques_dylan asks: What is the most difficult technique to learn?

Mastering a movement requires lots of repetition [...], so there isn’t one technique that is notably more difficult than the others. Every goalie’s technique is good at this level, so the challenge is to perfect the execution of each movement, play after play, game after game, and do it consistently. All goalies’ individual habits are a factor, though... you must be methodical to “break” a bad habit because that’s what they’re comfortable with. So, you have to work gradually to eliminate it, all while making sure they’re still comfortable because the goal is always for them to play well in their next game.

desbiens.ana asks: Which goalie has the weirdest habits?

I once had a goalie who always fiddled with his pad straps. I couldn’t tell you how many times he undid them in practice. Sometimes, a player would shoot, and he wasn’t ready. He’d change holes, a little tighter, a little looser... it never ended.

lorenzo0429 asks: What’s the development process like for a goalie from junior to the NHL?

There are a lot of differences, and the expectations are much higher, too. The speed of the NHL is much faster and the margin for error is much smaller than in junior or in the American Hockey League. [In the NHL], you’re exposed by your mistakes because of the speed of the game, the execution and the players’ talent.

wides6 (Chris Wideman) asks: Who is your favorite shooter before practice?

[laughs] All the guys are professionals. The only thing l tell them is, “This is goalie practice, so don’t miss the net.”

.marilou_ asks: What’s your favorite part about your job?

I love making videos. After every game, I make a video [for the starting goalie] which reinforces our strategy and emphasizes how we want to navigate each play. Also, I love jumping on the ice to do one-on-one sessions with the goalies.

Article written by Helene Cloutier, translated by Evan Milner