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08-25-2007, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevin Wey View Post
That said, though, as much fun as it is to be a slick stickhandler, it's fairly useless at higher levels of hockey. Does Joe Thornton rely on amazing hands? No, he uses powerful strides to generate speed and then also intelligently uses his body to shield the puck and stickhandles intelligently to shield the puck as well. He doesn't often use quick movements to do this, either. Much of Jagr's career is based off of puck protection. Vanek does this well, too, as does Kyle Okposo.
You make a valid point -- puck protection skills are very valuable -- but everybody you've mentioned has the size and build to excel at playing that style. If the OP is built like Paul Kariya and is a fast skater he'd really benefit from skating around (rather than through) his opponents. Being a good stick handler makes that easier to do.

So, slick stickhandling might get you on YouTube, but most high level players do not rely upon slick stickhandling. Besides, the more you stickhandle, the less in position you are to shoot the puck. Only if you're carrying the puck alongside you, and not in front of you, are you always ready to take that shot. So, if you're stickhandling away in front of you, a smart goalie will not make any commitment until you bring your stick into a shooting position on the forehand or the backhand.
Lastly, if you're doing a lot of slick stickhandling, it probably means you're missing opportunities to pass to puck to teammates. It's easier for a goalie to track the puck on your stick skating as fast as you can skate than if you pass the puck, which you can do at a much faster velocity than you can skate it.
So if he practices his stick handling skills he'll become a worse goal scorer and a worse passer? Come on. . . Any skill that he can add to his arsenal is a good thing -- it's in figuring out when and how to use these skills that matters and since he's 14 he's got plenty of time to learn and make his mistakes.

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