Chrissy Teigen recently tweeted out the following;
“I feel like can absolutely be a hockey goalie…I ran some numbers and if you lay on your side and lift your top leg up and down the entire game, you stop 99.9% of attempted goals. The rest is up to defense.”
@chrissyteigen, Twitter, June 2nd 2018
Now, in Ms Teigan’s defence, this is clearly a joke. However, it’s a common misconception held by many that playing between the pipes is the easiest position on ice. I believe it harks back to the primary school days of 5-aside football, when the goalie was always the chubby kid. I’ll come clean – I also believed this to be true. ‘Goalie can’t be that difficult, you just have to be in the way. Can’t you just stick a sumo in there and fill the hole??’
Short answer – no.
It isn’t possible to simply fill up the net. One of the fattest men of the 21st century was Manuel Uribe, weighing in at around 1200lbs. At his heaviest, he wasn’t big enough to plug the entire net, only covering 90% of the area. Even a 3rd line Dman, not typically known for scoring ability, would be able to hit that target with precision accuracy.
So, whilst sticking your fattest pal in net won’t secure you a win, you still need to be big. Really big. Someone once told me playing in goals was like being an athlete, whilst wearing a couch. Plus, you need to be flexible, taking on insane contortions to make some saves. Plus, pucks are hard, and they move fast. It goes against all natural survival instinct to throw yourself in their path.
The kit, whilst necessary for protection, is heavy; given the current butterfly style of tending, you’re up and down from your knees constantly. On top of this, you need to haul your kit around the crease, as well vertically. Goalies are often hailed as the best skaters on the team; however this is heavily debated. I personally think they’re equal to the rest, but have to focus more on edge control and quick direction changes, as opposed to speed skating from coast to coast. Regardless, it’s a lot to take in.
However, it’s not enough to be fit, flexible and fecking stupid. On top of insane athleticism, you need to be mentally as tough as a Canucks fan in Boston. There is little room for an ego under all that kit (unless you’re Patrick Roy, and I don’t think you are (but in the off chance it is you – call me)). You will get scored on. You need to be able to take that goal and get on with your day. Some games are flawless – saves, shut outs, the players slapping your helmet like a Jamaican bobsleigh team. Other nights one bad goal can throw you off for the whole game, and some losses can feel like they sit solely on your padded shoulders.
If a forward makes a mistake and causes a turnover, there’s 2 burly defencemen in the way to try rectify it. As a goalie, you are the last point of defence, the buck (or should that be puck?…) stops with you. You mess up, and you give away a chance at winning to the other team. I think Jacques Plante said it best;
“How would you like it if, at your job, every time you made the slightest mistake a little red light went on over your head and 18,000 people stood up and booed?”
Jacques Plante, Canadiens legend and Hall of Fame inductee.
However, throwing a hissy fit or getting overly emotional when you’re not playing well can often lead to more mistakes, and more goals let in. It’s about keeping a level head, which is undoubtedly difficult when there’s a rink full of people willing you to fail.
Hockey is a bloody difficult sport to play, regardless of position. I will not take away from the efforts another role, it’s a team sport after all. But goalies can get a hard rep from outsiders as being lazy, or lacking in precision skill. No one ever says ‘oh, all wingers have to do is pass the puck to the boy who scores, that’s easy, I could do that’. Just because we’re not moving far, doesn’t mean we’re not moving fast. Plus, we don’t get a break. Unless you get pulled, you’re playing a full 60-minute game, hunched over in a squat, constantly following the puck if it’s in your end.
So, if Miss Teigen isn’t too offended by my ramblings, she’s welcome to try my pads on for a session. After all, if Henrik Lundqvist can suit up and model, I’m sure she can suit up and save.
Henrik Lundqvist, Out Magsazine, all rights reserved.