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Six Questions with Hrudey

by Melody Huskey / Los Angeles Kings

LAKings.com caught up with former Kings goaltender Kelly Hrudey to find out about the headband, his intense focus and his work on Hockey Night in Canada.

Kelly Hrudey played parts of eight seasons with the Kings.

Hrudey, remembered for his blue bandana and nicknamed "Hollywood" because of the iconic sign painted on his mask, played for the Kings from 1989-96, including starting in goal for 20 games of the Kings playoff run in 1992-93. Hrudey has played in the most playoff games of any goaltender in Kings history (57) and is one of only four Kings netminders to have a playoff point (one assist). Originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round (38th overall) of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Kelly played for the Islanders, Kings and Sharks during his sixteen year career in the NHL.

LAKings.com: How did you become a goalie?

Hrudey: It goes back to my days as a kid playing street hockey with all of my buddies.  When I decided to join a hockey team, I was having this conversation with my friend. By chance his dad was listening to us and he said something like, “You know Kelly, I don’t want to influence you too much, but when I watch you guys play ball hockey you stop the ball more often than all of the other guys.” So I thought, you know what, that is cool I will try goal.  For anyone out there that has ever played goal, they find out pretty quickly that is intoxicating and they cannot get enough.  So that is how I started playing in net.

LAKings.com: The headband. Some say it was superstition… was there a practical purpose?

I don’t care who you are, you are going to go through some moments where it feels like it is only you, because goaltending can be a pretty lonely position. - Hrudey

Hrudey: There was a practical function, I was not superstitious. It started because you may remember that I always had long hair and I wore contact lenses as well.  If anyone has contacts they know how the sweat really bothers their eyes.  Obviously playing goal it is not a great thing if your contacts are moving around and your eyes are bothered. So I tried a whole bunch of different things and finally one day during practice when I was still in New York I ripped up one of the t-shirts that we wore underneath and made it into a bandana.  Lo and behold it happened to be the most absorbent thing that I had tried and the next thing I knew it had kind of become a trademark.  I wanted to get rid of it and I actually had some friends who convinced me later on that it was too much of a trademark and I should keep it. So I did, reluctantly for the last part of my career.

LAKings.com: If you could give the current Kings goalies one piece of advice, what would it be?

Hrudey: That is a tough question because everyone is different and every situation seems like it has a unique flavor. Probably I would say that they should just remember to stay strong when times are a little bit tough.  Because I don’t care who you are, you are going to go through some moments where it feels like it is only you, because goaltending can be a pretty lonely position anyways.  You just have to trust in yourself because good times and bad times are around the corner.  Butand adds years to career.

LAKings.com: Speaking of strength, how did you stay focused during the quadruple overtime playoff game in 1987 when you were with the Islanders?

Hrudey: It was pretty easy actually, because that was early on in my career and I was pretty carefree and relaxed back then so I really enjoyed it.  In fact, I know that it was shown on Hockey Night in Canada as well and there were a couple times when they caught the referee Andy Van Hellemond and I having a laugh or two every once in awhile over something that happened.  The only other thing, I just have to remind myself about is that, typically, most goals are scored in the first two minutes or the last two minutes of an overtime period.  It seems as though that is when players minds are wandering still a little bit, so those are the times when I really tried to buckle down and focus.  But other than that it was an important game so I didn’t really find it all that hard to stay focused on the job.

LAKings.com: If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

Hrudey: Well, I am not sure how to answer this, because I know what my fault was looking back but it is also the reason why I was able to get to the NHL.  I was not very good as a kid and I had a late start, so one of the things that just kept driving myself to get better and better.  I didn’t give myself much of a break mentally and I just tried to really work through everything.  But I think in hindsight, looking back on my career, I think that if I would have been a little less critical of myself after a bad game or after a loss, it probably would have been better.  I might have moved forward more quickly and that would have helped.  I cared so much about winning and losing, which is a great thing, but I do think that at times I cared too much.  But that got me where I was, so I don’t know how I could have solved it.

LAKings.com: Tell us what you are up to now.

Hrudey: I am a studio analyst for Hockey Night in Canada, which is the equivalent of Monday Night Football in the States. It is a once weekly show, we are on every Saturday night across the country and it is the longest running live sports show in North America.  I believe that this is our 57th year and it is an iconic show across the country here.  I must say, I am incredibly proud of being on this program because it is a real honor in Canada to have any association with Hockey Night in Canada.  I think I am entering my 12th year as a full-time analyst so I take great pride in that.

Talk about Hrudey on Hockeywood, L.A.

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