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RELATIONSHIP GOALS

Flames netminding coach getting to know his new charges

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

Forging an alliance, arriving at common ground, establishing a shared vision, is imperative, Job 1, in Jordan Siglet's line of work.

"The biggest thing with new guys,'' says the Flames' goaltending coach, "is building a relationship. And that takes time.

"You can't just walk in, right off the bat, and start telling someone you really don't know to 'Do this' or 'Do that.'

"This is their livelihood. They have to believe what you're telling them is in their best interests and in the team's. That doesn't just … happen.

"They need to get to know you, and you them.

"You've got to earn their trust. And vice-versa. It's a two-way street. A partnership.

"That could take a month, two months, a few weeks. It's different with every guy. 

"What's important is that day-in, day-out you have to keep building on strengthening that relationship."

The new puck-repelling tandem down at the 'Dome, Mike Smith and Eddie Lack, are a seasoned pair, eager to re-launch in a fresh environment on a team they're convinced is just breaking into Prime Time.

Expediting the familiarization process with their main support and mentoring mechanism, Sigalet, then, is vital. 

"It's been really good,'' says Sigalet of the introductory stages of the collaboration. "You want to get off on the right foot, obviously, start to coach them and make some little tweaks in their game.

"I got to fly out to Kelowna in the summer to see Eddie when he was down there and watch him on the ice.

"Schedules didn't really line up to go down to Ontario to meet Smitty but as soon as he got in town we went out for dinner. 

"They've both been out with a local goalie coach I know here to get them some reps.

"What I think helps is that the coaching staff is back, intact, so if they're coming into a more stable situation. Last year, everybody was trying to get used to everybody else.

"This year, there's a familiarity for the returning players with the coaches and the systems. That helps the new guys adapt quicker."

Much, naturally, rests on the shoulders of the tandem.

"They're both big guys (Smith lines up on the bedroom wall height wall chart at 6-foot-4; Lack, nicknamed The Stork, is an inch taller) so they play a little deeper in their net.

"It's a calm, positional style for both of them.

"Last year, you had (Brian) Elliott, who was a little more of a battler and Chad (Johnson), who's more like these two - calm, positional.

"So last year was more of a contrast in the way the two goalies played.

"I think being similar in their styles will be good for both of these guys. That means they can watch each other, learn from each other, relate to each other maybe a little better."

For both men, the situation, the fit, the team trajectory, has been a revitalizing tonic.

"Talk to both of them and the word they use is 'rejuvenated','' says Sigalet. "They're both so happy to be here, to have this opportunity.

"They both have familiar faces in the organization, too: Smitty with Brad Treliving and obviously Don Maloney, Eddie knows Gully from their days together in Vancouver.

"That gives them a degree of comfort which makes a big difference. Makes the fit easier, the transition quicker."

If they are stylistically similiar, Smith and Lack seem to provide a nice contrast temperamentally.

"Everyone knows Smitty, what a competitive athlete he is,'' Sigalet says. "So focused. The big thing with him is that in Arizona maybe he tried to take too much on his shoulders. I think here he'll be able to relax, let the leadership group handle that and he can just concentrate on stopping pucks.

"Eddie's more of a character. He likes to chirp. He's all over Twitter. I think that's great for the room. It keeps things light. 

"Once he's on the ice, though, it's business.

"Both of them, you can tell, leave everything on the ice and aren't satisfied if they don't. They're both experienced goalies, both understand what's expected.

"It's good to have differing personalities.

"I like the mix. I'm looking forward to the season. I think it's going to really solid tandem."

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