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The Hockey Canada Solution To Goaltending Development

Steve Jobs the innovator of Apple is often credited with saying “good artists copy but great artists steal”.  The concept is actually much older and a derivative of Sir Isaac Newtons “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

All people evolve based upon their predecessors discoveries and innovations.  It is just a simple fact of life, relating to technology, science, language, and sports.  We take what someone else does, use it, and try to improve upon it.

So when it comes to the Canadian goaltender development system, and what is perceived to be a lack of developing world class goaltenders, you do what everyone else does.  You steal what you see that works.

A new template for goaltending training in minor hockey is about to be implemented, and young netminders should begin to see some changes by next season.

Europe is known for their emphasis on making dedicated goaltending instruction available at the youngest ages in minor hockey, and teaching a consistent set of skills throughout the age groups.  The end result of that training has been the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne, Tuuka Rask, and Sergei Bobrovsky to name a few.

The numbers tell the story.  There is a significant rate of decline in number of Canadian born goaltenders in the NHL when compared to other countries.  As of 2014, other countries are neck and neck with Canada.

Number-of-Goalies-in-Regular-Season-by-Nationality

The goaltending instruction community in Canada used to be secretive and extremely competitive when looking for top flight goaltending specific coaches.  The goal is to continue changing that mindset to one that is more open and collaborative.

“We were humbled,” Said Sean Murray, who owns and operates Vancouver-area ProFormance Goalie School  “Everyone in Canada had this big ego. Everyone used to hide their stuff, it was a big secret. Now everyone shares. We have group discussions on how to help each other. Everyone realized to a man that our system is flawed. When you find that, as any good coach, you work to change it. In Europe, everyone works together.”

The key to anything in life starts and ends with education.  While many are projecting the change to take as much as ten years to fully implement, the goal is to have all the coaches in minor hockey programs develop the ability to not only teach a forward or a defenseman how to pass, but also to teach a goaltender how to play the puck.

If the long term objective is to make goaltending less complicated and easier to understand it will start at the grass roots minor hockey level.  Its how the Europeans do it, and how the Americans began doing it a few years ago.

If you see a system that works, by all means steal it and make it your own.  The key to that success though will lie in your ability to innovate while implementing as the originators will continue to innovate.

Joe Hughes

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