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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Mike Dunham embraces his new role as goaltending coach

Mike Dunham
We sat down with Mike Dunham, who recently retired from the NHL after ten seasons to become the Islanders new goaltending coach.

Discuss how the hiring played out.

Over the summer I spoken to Ted a few times and expressed my interest. I had to decide what I wanted to do because I had been given some offers to play elsewhere. But it was hard for me to go too far away from home. My familiarity with the players, the management, the coaching staff and the area helped with the decision. I kept calling Ted every couple of weeks to remind him I was still interested.

Finally in August I came to Long Island and met up with him. He offered me the job, and that was exciting. I then needed to step back, talk to my family and make my decision. We decided that it was time to retire and get my foot in the door on the coaching side.

How tough is it to retire?

It's always hard to walk away from a career, especially one in the NHL. But this gives me a chance to be at this level, in a different position, but still be involved with the NHL and talking about goaltending. To get a chance to have a job like that, I thought it was the right move and place to do that.


Any coaching experience?

You go through the years and work at camps, but that can't compare to what we're going to do here. There's a lot of watching film, trying to get to know each goaltender's style and seeing what works and what doesn't. There's a lot more studying involved. At this level, all the guys can stop the puck, so I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel and teach them to stop the puck. It's about making sure they feel good about their game when they step on the ice, keeping the rust of their game and fine tune things. It's about maintaining their game at a certain level.

How will you divide your time during the season?

I don't know my exact schedule yet, but we'll spend a lot of home stands on Long Island. I'll hit up Bridgeport a couple of times a month to make sure things are going well there. Goaltending is such a pinpoint position and you want to make sure the new guys in the organization are doing the right things to be better. It's also important to help them to get through their struggles and back on track. A lot of things will dictate my schedule. I won't be around as much as I was last year – every day – but I'll be around enough.

What is it like being on the other side of things?

The first day was a little different when I was out in sweats and all of my old teammates were twirling around me in their full equipment. That was a little weird watching them practice as I stood there just trying to stay out of the way. I'm starting to get a feel of what I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to be. There's certainly a learning process for me to get comfortable. The one nice things is that I know all the guys and they've treated me well. I just don't go to dinner with them now on the road, I go with the coaches. That's something that's a little different.


How have the goaltenders looked so far?

Rick has come into camp in great shape. He's showed that he's ready to go for this season. He wants to expand on last season and take his game to that elite top five, top eight status in the league. He's right there, so it's going to be exciting to see him get going this year.

Dubie is coming off that fantastic finish last year and it will be interesting to see how he evolves into this role as an NHL back-up goaltender with Ricky playing a lot of the games and what is needed to stay sharp. But Dubie is excited about the season.

Joey MacDonald had some good games with the Bruins last year, so I'm looking forward to getting to know his game better. He's got a great attitude out here and is excited about being with the Islanders.

Mike Morrison is playing really well. He's a big goaltender and moves around the net very well. He's got a handful of NHL games under his belt.

The depth in goal is as strong as it's been in a long time. I think that's important with the goaltending position. You see injuries and guys struggling, so the more depth you have the better off you're going to be. With Ricky starting at the top, and moving down, we have a good group, which is great for the organization.

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