(May 9, 2005) -- For the past two years, Steve McKichan has been Ed Belfour's personal goaltending coach. In Ed's first year in Toronto he set a team record for victories with 37 and was a big reason the Leafs had a successful season. This past season Eddie had another stellar year finishing the season with a career win total of 435. During the playoffs he posted three shutouts in the opening round as the Leafs sneaked by the Ottawa Senators.
After the season ended, McKichan accepted the position of Goaltending Coach with the Maple Leafs, which means that all of the goalies in the Toronto system will now be under his guidance and coaching.
As an NHL goalie coach, Steve must develop all the goaltenders in the system and try to get them all progressing towards the mutual goal of playing in the "show". Besides the two goaltenders on the big club, most teams will have two goaltenders in the AHL and one or two goalies in a third tier level like the ECHL or the Central Hockey League. In addition there are normally two or three other youngsters that have been drafted but still play in Major Junior or college hockey.
Now, Steve will regularly offer up some great practice tips for goalies of all ages at all levels...
"All pro goaltenders do things really well as you would imagine but clearly they all have areas of weakness or more accurately areas the need to improve on. The fact that they are getting paid to play doesn't mean they have the position perfected. This applies to the guys on their way to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the guys trying to get their first taste of the Big Leagues.
"Each individual goaltender in our system would have specific areas to address but all goaltenders need to work on three core areas. Even goaltenders still playing in youth leagues or in the recreation leagues can benefit from these ideas...
The Success Triangle
To make it to the big leagues you need to have a well balanced life. The balance that I'm describing involves three areas: school, social life and hockey. If you can visualize these three items as points on a triangle it will help you understand the discussion.
If you spend all your waking moments on any single element of this triangle your life will quickly fall short of your goals. You need balance and it is important to treat each of these points with equal importance.
It could be argued that you could be successful by really throwing yourself into two of the three elements. For example, if you never go out with your buddies, never hang out with a girlfriend and never hang out on the internet you will have a ton of time to perfect your goaltending and post some pretty decent grades. But at what cost?
You need to have a social life and you need to have friends outside of hockey. What fun would it be to go through high school without going to a dance or hanging out with your buddies? I believe a properly balanced social life in fact helps your success in school and hockey. By not feeling like your giving up your social life you can in fact put more into your hockey efforts and your schooling. The key is balance.
Of course we can all name athletes who had it all but spent too much time on the social part of their life. They put too much time into the parties and hanging out. The grades suffered and the hockey skills never reached their full potential.
I met a former NHL goaltender when I was 13 years old and he made a big impact on my life. Marv Edwards was a quality goaltender who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1970's. He told me many valuable things but one thing really stood out. To become an elite athlete doesn't have to be drudgery. "You need to pick your spots." By that he meant that you can have a life outside of hockey. Keep the grades up, work hard at your game and spend time with your friends.
"If you want to reach your goals in hockey as an elite goaltender it is important to focus on these core areas. If you have any other questions you could drop me an email or visit my website www.futurepro.com.
Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Coach