So you want to be a goalie.
You want to have someone shooting pucks at you at more than 100 miles per hour. You want to be the one who is blamed for every goal that goes in. You want to be involved in every minute of every game. If you were playing football you would be the quarterback. If you were playing baseball you would be the pitcher or catcher. Who wants to be a wide receiver and have maybe five or six passes thrown your way an entire game. Who wants to be an outfielder and have maybe four or five flyballs hit in your direction.
If you want to be a goalie, you want to be the guy.
You must have skill, determination, some luck and most of all patience. The only other player who has any idea what you are going through is the other goalie. You have a natural bond because you both know the time and work that has gone into getting into the NHL goaltending fraternity, but you also have that competition to prove who should be the guy standing between the pipes most nights. Being the backup is part of the job. You know it is important to be ready because you never know when you could get the call, but sitting there with a baseball hat on is not what you have trained to do.
Cory Schneider has all these traits and this year it looked like he was going to be the guy. He had paid his dues. He was an All-American at Boston College. He was goaltender of the year in the American League playing in Manitoba. He watched and learned by being Roberto Luongo’s backup for four years. He played 33 games in the 11-12 regular season and then got the starts of the number one goalie in the playoffs. He earned a new long term, lucrative contract – but wait here comes the lockout.
You cannot have a normal training camp. You cannot play in any exhibition games and the season is only 48 games long. Cory got the nod opening night like every number one goalie should. Unfortunately it did not go well and because of the shortened season you open with back-to-back games you do not get the chance to get right back out there and get your mind back on track. Roberto gets the start in Game 2 and plays well, but the team loses in a shootout. Cory gets the next start and wins in a shootout. Cory gets the next start and gets a shutout. Coach has an easy call for the next game. Cory starts again, but loses in San Jose.
With back-to-back games again, Roberto starts and gets another point in a shootout loss and is very good in Los Angeles. Now here is where it gets tricky. Here is where the old goalie in me says for Cory’s mindset and if you want to make him feel like a number one he should get the next game at home against Colorado.
This is why there are no head coaches right now in the NHL who are former goalies. Coaches are not paid to think of the goalies mindset, they are paid to win. They are paid to use their experience and instincts to put the best team, in their opinion, to get a W in the W column. Alain Vigneault starts Roberto Luongo and he gets a shutout.
I am in the broadcast booth and Alain has the record for the most wins in franchise history.
Oh and did I also mention that one of the most important traits of any goaltender is mental toughness?