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Well…Excuse Me!

September 28, 2011 Goalies No Comments

Well…Excuse me!
By Mitch Korn
Oct 31, 2001, 16:41

 

Goalies, like all hockey players, are accountable for their actions. It’s very easy to point the finger at, or to place the blame on, somebody else, when in reality the goalie should be responsible. It is the coach’s job to recognize that there are many circumstances that lead to a goal, and blame should not necessarily be placed on the goaltender. The goaltender, however, has to approach the game in a manner where he feels he can make a significant difference. Not just be there—not just make the routine saves—but to come up big and make a difference.

No one should point fingers in bad times. But we are all human beings, and goaltenders, like anyone else, occasionally make excuses. Generally, it is a defense mechanism for the weak. Here are some of the most commonly heard.

 

I was screened.

That may be the case, but never ever use or accept the excuse of a screen for a goal. The goalie’s job is to fight the screens. That does not mean punch the defenseman or the opponent, but rather it means find the puck at all costs, and read and react to what is going to happen.

 

I hate my pads/stick/skates…

It’s easy to blame an inanimate object for the difficulties a goaltender may be having. The stick may be too big, too small, too heavy, or too light. The pads the same. But in reality, the goaltender must overcome it all to perform.

 

I don’t feel well.

It’s funny, but I’ve known a lot of goaltenders who have played their best game while under the weather. It seems to bring out a greater level of concentration because the athlete knows he is not feeling well, and often he bears down and focuses even more. If you’re that sick, don’t play. Because if you do play you must accept the responsibility. If you are very sick and still play, you are hurting the entire team and being extremely selfish.

 

We lost because of the ref.

There will be good officials and bad officials, but it drives me crazy when any hockey player blames the referee for losing a game. A referee doesn’t set out to make what some would perceive as bad calls—they call it like they see it. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Worry about playing, and stopping the puck.

 

But I got a piece of it!

One of my goaltending commandments has always been to try to prevent pucks from going in through you or off you. Getting a piece of it, while close, is just not enough. And again, accept the responsibility, and do not be content with almost.

 

I didn’t get a good warm-up.

I know at times, especially in cold buildings, it’s difficult without a good warm-up to go in and excel. But the great goalies are able to rise to the occasion, rise above these kinds of problems and play well regardless of the warm-up.

 

He was in the crease.

On some occasions, a player in the crease honestly does disrupt the goaltender, but in most situations it’s just the foot or stick that’s in the crease and that truly has no bearing on the fact the puck may have gone in the net. It’s a convenient excuse, but in most cases, the goalie is clutching at straws.

 

It was deflected!

Things happen; pucks go in the net. Goalies will not get a shutout every game. When deflected goals happen, either from the opponent, or inadvertently off one of your own players, don’t assume guilt by making the excuse before you’re even blamed.

 

The rebound should have been cleared.

Yes, part of the job of the defense is to clear the front of the net. But part of the goalie’s job is not to leave vulnerable rebounds. That means if the goaltender makes the first save, it’s his job to direct the puck away from the front of the net—away from traffic, and away from an opponent. Sometimes rebound goals are the fault of the goaltender because he put the rebound out there for the taking. Don’t expect the defense to clear every rebound. And don’t blame the defense when a rebound goal is scored.

 

It was unstoppable.

That may be true, but the best goalies are extremely competitive, expect a lot from themselves, and will accept the responsibility of the score. Dismissing your responsibility to stop the puck does nothing but shield you from reality.

Finally, remember this: nobody is perfect, and everyone is human. But it is better to accept responsibility and move on to the next shot, to the next play, to the next game, instead of dwelling on whose fault it is.

Every goal, every play, every game should be used as a positive learning experience rather than a negative. Don’t make excuses, give us results!

 

Mitch Korn is the goaltender coach for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. In addition, he is an administrator at Miami University (Ohio) and directs the 8-week Summer Hockey School. Miami has Division I ice hockey in the CCHA.

This first appeared in the 09/1995 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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