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Goaltenders and Fear

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Old
12-16-2013, 08:31 PM
  #1
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Goaltenders and Fear

Rewind to the 1987 Canada Cup. More precisely, Game 3 of the Finals.

Late in the 3rd period, the game was tied 5-5. The game was on the line at this moment. Then Canada breaks out of their zone, and towards the Soviet zone with the puck.

The puck-carrier was Wayne Gretzky along the boards, and Mario Lemieux was trailing him down the middle.

The Soviet goaltender was Sergei Mylnikov.

Do you think Sergei Mylnikov was afraid when he looked out, and saw both Gretzky and Lemieux coming at him with the puck on their sticks and the game on the line? Do you think Sergei Mylnikov felt fear?

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12-16-2013, 08:54 PM
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No. Goalies don't get to that level by showing fear. Excitement? Most likely.

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12-16-2013, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TheBigOne View Post
Do you think Sergei Mylnikov felt fear?
... ah, no. But Im pretty sure he wouldve been nervous seeing those guys coming at him, felt concern, worry. But fear?... No. Not unless he was a total basket case of an amateur with absolutely no experience & hence no confidence having never faced good players before and he certainly wasnt that. You dont make for much of a goalie if you cant conquer fear no matter who your facing. As in No Fear.

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12-16-2013, 09:21 PM
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No. Goalies don't get to that level by showing fear. Excitement? Most likely.
Excitement as in a dry mouth, a really sick feeling in your stomach, perhaps some dizziness, hot flashes mebbe & the "fear of being totally embarrassed" sure, but only for a fleeting second. You Buck Up, get your head together, play it like a pro. Never knew what to make of Glenn Hall upchucking before games, I guess in-between periods as well. Nervous system a mess, bulimic perhaps... I've always found it amusing that people assume goalies must be terrified, scared. Especially back in the day before masks and then even with them from the mid 60's on. Quite the opposite. Takes serious hubris, self confidence. Fear just doesnt enter into the equation and if it does, your done. Cant play the position scared.

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12-16-2013, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Never knew what to make of Glenn Hall upchucking before games, I guess in-between periods as well. Nervous system a mess, bulimic perhaps...
Do you think Hall's condition was related to the poor equipment of his era and no mask? Do you think he would be the same way in this era with all the protection? He must have been thankful to have Hull on his team.

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12-16-2013, 10:16 PM
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Do you think Hall's condition was related to the poor equipment of his era and no mask? Do you think he would be the same way in this era with all the protection? He must have been thankful to have Hull on his team.
According to an interview he gave some time ago, he only started throwing up before games later in his career though he did say that he did it a couple of times in his last year of Junior. He said that as he got on, he felt he wasnt giving it his all, that he wasnt playing "wired" enough. So it wasnt an equipment factor, nor the fact that he was out there maskless. It seems it was a sort of psychosomatic trigger with the guy. That if he "purged" himself & went out there feeling edgier, obviously hungrier, off-balance a bit that that zone was where he felt he played his best... Its certainly a strange one. Youd think it was nerves but according to him it wasnt.

Also when asked who's shot bothered him the most (beyond Mikitas & Hulls' in practice) he named Jean Beliveau interestingly enough. Beliveau the first guy he'd encountered who could put one behind him from the Blue Line. Straight, hard, heavy & accurate. He also mentioned Boom Boom Geoffrion & Bobby Orr, though overall he said the worst or perhaps "best" player he ever faced was Gordie Howe on the wrist, snap & back hand.... he played through the innovation in stick technology with the wicked Banana Blade's which were eventually outlawed as the puck in flight could & often did break every rule of physics known to man. Dip, rise, arc left or right, some pretty wild stuff. But no, no real fear that he'd be wheeled off strapped to a Gurney, loaded into a Hearse & taken straight to the Funeral Parlor. Wasnt throwing up because his nerves were fried. Did so to get himself into his zone, though personally I wouldve recommended a nice pre-game nap, dark room, mebbe some Pink Floyd.

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12-16-2013, 11:10 PM
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According to an interview he gave some time ago, he only started throwing up before games later in his career though he did say that he did it a couple of times in his last year of Junior. He said that as he got on, he felt he wasnt giving it his all, that he wasnt playing "wired" enough. So it wasnt an equipment factor, nor the fact that he was out there maskless. It seems it was a sort of psychosomatic trigger with the guy. That if he "purged" himself & went out there feeling edgier, obviously hungrier, off-balance a bit that that zone was where he felt he played his best... Its certainly a strange one. Youd think it was nerves but according to him it wasnt.

Also when asked who's shot bothered him the most (beyond Mikitas & Hulls' in practice) he named Jean Beliveau interestingly enough. Beliveau the first guy he'd encountered who could put one behind him from the Blue Line. Straight, hard, heavy & accurate. He also mentioned Boom Boom Geoffrion & Bobby Orr, though overall he said the worst or perhaps "best" player he ever faced was Gordie Howe on the wrist, snap & back hand.... he played through the innovation in stick technology with the wicked Banana Blade's which were eventually outlawed as the puck in flight could & often did break every rule of physics known to man. Dip, rise, arc left or right, some pretty wild stuff. But no, no real fear that he'd be wheeled off strapped to a Gurney, loaded into a Hearse & taken straight to the Funeral Parlor. Wasnt throwing up because his nerves were fried. Did so to get himself into his zone, though personally I wouldve recommended a nice pre-game nap, dark room, mebbe some Pink Floyd.
Very interesting. I know I would have been terrified playing in those days without a mask, but I suppose if you never grew up with one you just get used to it. I think Hall might have been in a little bit of denial. Not necessarily about fear, but about the pressure of being a goalie. What makes me think that is that the body will take over what the mind cannot tolerate. Thus, his pre-game wretching. Also, I can't think of any other position in any other sport that has as much pressure as a goalie. Except possibly pitchers in baseball. And there have been some doozies over the years: Mark Fidrych, Bill Lee, Al Hrabrowsky, Dizzy Dean, Steve Carlton, etc...All of them had there odd and quirky ways about handling pressure. This topic deserves its own thread.

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12-17-2013, 10:25 AM
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I doubt it. You don't get to that level playing scared.

As much as I hate anecdotes too, I used to regularly get called up from Bantam to play Midget when one of their D went down. Despite being younger and should be outclassed, I stepped my game up huge when I saw a older star player coming my way. You want to succeed in those situations and jump at it.

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12-18-2013, 10:04 PM
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I've always wondered why, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, a team with an injured goalkeeper would use a minor leaguer who was available or their trainer or a coach (or a player provided by the opposing team, for gosh sakes!) instead of putting one of their defensemen or forwards in there.

It's as if goalies were considered so specialized that only a select few could do it. Was it that most players really feared facing the fire in the net? It doesn't make sense to me, but maybe superstition was involved.

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12-18-2013, 11:57 PM
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I've always wondered why, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, a team with an injured goalkeeper would use a minor leaguer who was available or their trainer or a coach (or a player provided by the opposing team, for gosh sakes!) instead of putting one of their defensemen or forwards in there.

It's as if goalies were considered so specialized that only a select few could do it. Was it that most players really feared facing the fire in the net? It doesn't make sense to me, but maybe superstition was involved.
I think part of the answer is that owners were so frugal back then, that they didn't want to have a player being paid an NHL salary sitting on the bench. There was also the general attitude that you played through pain/injury no matter what and if you didn't you were considered weak/soft. In Terry Sawchuk's bio, there were numerous incidences of him getting cut in the face. Rather than put in a backup goalie, the game was halted while he was stitched up no matter how large the gash or if he had a concussion, etc.. If you didn't play with 'minor' injuries like this, you often lost your job, were demoted to the minors or considered weak and quickly weeded out.

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12-19-2013, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by TheBigOne View Post
Rewind to the 1987 Canada Cup. More precisely, Game 3 of the Finals.

Late in the 3rd period, the game was tied 5-5. The game was on the line at this moment. Then Canada breaks out of their zone, and towards the Soviet zone with the puck.

The puck-carrier was Wayne Gretzky along the boards, and Mario Lemieux was trailing him down the middle.

The Soviet goaltender was Sergei Mylnikov.

Do you think Sergei Mylnikov was afraid when he looked out, and saw both Gretzky and Lemieux coming at him with the puck on their sticks and the game on the line? Do you think Sergei Mylnikov felt fear?


Not at all.


Same can be said about Grant Fuhr when he saw Krutov and Makarov coming.


When your full-time job is to stop shots by world's best players, it becomes a routine. Nothing scary or extraordinary about it.

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12-19-2013, 10:03 PM
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I played goalie, and during a game that stuff never has time to materialize in your head....

On a play like that though, there is ample time to become aware of who it is that's headed your way with the puck...

When you are on your game you are too focused to let anything distract you.
When you are in your head you may focus on the player(s) approaching, but I would venture a guess that it would never be fear, rather getting up for the challenge of being better than your opposition.

A guy like Myshkin would probably be thinking only of making the save, but if he was in his head, simply proving himself to the world to be as good as Tretiak before him. I'd be horribly disappointed to hear a goalie was afraid of a challenge.

What would be scary to a goalie was a guy who shot heck out of the puck in an unpredictable manner (ie at your head). Maybe less so now since the equipment is so much better (ie bigger). Back in the 70's and 80's there were still a lot of little spots with no protection (throat, sternum, inside of the knee and foot) that hurt like crap. You might never take a shot there, but when it happened it hurt like heck!

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12-19-2013, 10:15 PM
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I played goalie, and during a game that stuff never has time to materialize in your head.... When you are on your game you are too focused to let anything distract you....
Damn straight. You dont think about it. Your only concern is making sure the puck doesnt cross the line & that your confidence is working on your Defence & team in general while messing up the opposition. Get right into their heads. Like a Pitcher. Billy the Kid. South never lost. Takes serious hubris, guts.... you are mistaken about us earlier generations. Wasnt a matter of a lack of protection in terms of equipment.

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12-19-2013, 11:40 PM
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Excitement as in a dry mouth, a really sick feeling in your stomach, perhaps some dizziness, hot flashes mebbe & the "fear of being totally embarrassed" sure, but only for a fleeting second. You Buck Up, get your head together, play it like a pro. Never knew what to make of Glenn Hall upchucking before games, I guess in-between periods as well. Nervous system a mess, bulimic perhaps... I've always found it amusing that people assume goalies must be terrified, scared. Especially back in the day before masks and then even with them from the mid 60's on. Quite the opposite. Takes serious hubris, self confidence. Fear just doesnt enter into the equation and if it does, your done. Cant play the position scared.
Nervous tension. Fred Biletnikoff used to vomit before every game then go out and make catches over the middle cool as a cucumber.

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12-20-2013, 12:13 AM
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Nervous tension. Fred Biletnikoff used to vomit before every game then go out and make catches over the middle cool as a cucumber.
Ya, well, thanks St.P.... another Puke Artist huh? Awesome.

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12-20-2013, 12:19 AM
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Ya, well, thanks St.P.... another Puke Artist huh? Awesome.
Trust me, if the cookie toss was an Olympic event then Biletnikoff would have been a gold medalist

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12-20-2013, 12:25 AM
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Trust me, if the cookie toss was an Olympic event then Biletnikoff would have been a gold medalist
Thats just pretty disgusting Maing.... still, good value huh? Get ta see your dinner twice. Bang for the buck.

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12-20-2013, 12:26 AM
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Thats just pretty disgusting Maing.... still, good value huh? Get ta see your dinner twice. Bang for the buck.
You just made me spit my drink lololol

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12-20-2013, 01:35 AM
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You just made me spit my drink lololol
Well.... it is pretty hysterical if you think about it..... $1.98 for the Meatloaf with Mashed..... Glenn Hall ordering that quite specifically. Napkin just "so".

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12-21-2013, 06:01 PM
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I don't really like the word "fear" and I think that's what we are reacting to here. But there has to be some sort of reaction a goalie has if Mario and Gretzky are bearing down on him and he's the last line of defense in one of the biggest games ever. You don't have time to be scared, I agree, but there is no doubt you are nervous.

Glenn Hall vomitted, even during the game.

Tony Esposito once said in a quote that he was "scared to death" instead of being rather cool in net like goalies always looked to be.

Those are some pretty elite goalies there. There is a ton of pressure to perform and in some ways fear makes you perform better.

I think there were players in NHL history legitimately afraid of Howe, Messier, Potvin, Lindros, Probert, Chara, etc. from a physical standpoint. Would they admit it? No, but even a great player can show some fear.

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12-21-2013, 06:31 PM
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^^^ Oh no question Phil some players did (and still do) play scared however in most cases they were out of the league fairly quickly though in some cases their speed & talents kept them in the line-up's. Carl Brewer is a classic example. Abhorred fighting yet he ran his mouth & played it dirty at times. One night it caught up to him and he took a Hell of a beating on the ice that carried on into the players bench. In his book he discusses at length how thereafter he was "playing scared". That that fight had really shaken him up and precipitated much that followed including walking from the team altogether. Wanting to regain his amateur status & go play for Father David Bauer & the Canadian National Team. A "gentlemans game"....

As I stated up page, Hall himself in discussing his throwing up said point blank it wasnt "fear", it was a buildup of the pressure he felt including the pressure he put on himself and that as he got older when it started in earnest, in purging himself he felt better, looser and edgier, sharper.... No idea what the deal was with Esposito, but Id call that line about him saying he was scared hyperbole, something both Esposito boys were none too short of. Tony looked for every possible way he could to cheat. Studied the rule book back to front. Added a "crotch pocket" to his pants. Extra yardage to close gaps. The first to add an extension to his trapper with a sewn on aftermarket bit of leather & webbing adding several inches to the pocket. This wasnt a guy who was playing scared. This was a guy looking for shortcuts, beating the system. Very clever.

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12-21-2013, 07:48 PM
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No idea what the deal was with Esposito, but Id call that line about him saying he was scared hyperbole, something both Esposito boys were none too short of. Tony looked for every possible way he could to cheat. Studied the rule book back to front. Added a "crotch pocket" to his pants. Extra yardage to close gaps. The first to add an extension to his trapper with a sewn on aftermarket bit of leather & webbing adding several inches to the pocket. This wasnt a guy who was playing scared. This was a guy looking for shortcuts, beating the system. Very clever.
Do you guys think part of Espo's fear was his notorious bad eyesight on longshots? My guess is that goalies could not wear glasses in those days because of the way masks were constructed and I don't know how long contacts have been around. Maybe his biggest fear was embarrassment of letting in a goal from 60 feet?

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12-21-2013, 08:13 PM
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... ah, no. But Im pretty sure he wouldve been nervous seeing those guys coming at him, felt concern, worry. But fear?... No. Not unless he was a total basket case of an amateur with absolutely no experience & hence no confidence having never faced good players before and he certainly wasnt that. You dont make for much of a goalie if you cant conquer fear no matter who your facing. As in No Fear.
I think that is true. I'm not a goalie. So I just imagine.

In addition, If Gretz and Mario come down on you, you have a perfect excuse. If it was some goon, that's different.

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12-21-2013, 08:20 PM
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Do you guys think part of Espo's fear was his notorious bad eyesight on longshots? My guess is that goalies could not wear glasses in those days because of the way masks were constructed and I don't know how long contacts have been around. Maybe his biggest fear was embarrassment of letting in a goal from 60 feet?
He wore contacts initially but yes, they were fairly new to the market & hilariously his kept popping out. Impossible to call a time out let alone try & find one on a white ice surface with tiny chips everywhere. He did start wearing glasses thereafter, attaching those bars over the eyes of his mask to stop a stick or whatever from penetrating. Chris Osgoode was another who wore contacts, sometimes glasses.... but again hear LBD, "fear of embarrassment" and "fear of getting hurt or fear of a player/shooter" two different things. When you do let in a bad goal or even have a bad game, you just shake it off. Learn from the mistake, pick yourself up, dust yourself off & away you go. Any goalie who lets a goal or bad game really get to him has a serious problem & wont last long, and if the confidence goes & fear does creep in, youd best be hanging them up if you cant work your way out of it.

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12-21-2013, 08:58 PM
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but again hear LBD, "fear of embarrassment" and "fear of getting hurt or fear of a player/shooter" two different things. When you do let in a bad goal or even have a bad game, you just shake it off. Learn from the mistake, pick yourself up, dust yourself off & away you go. Any goalie who lets a goal or bad game really get to him has a serious problem & wont last long, and if the confidence goes & fear does creep in, youd best be hanging them up if you cant work your way out of it.
You know, funny thing. I forgot I played goal half time for a couple of years, ages 9-11. Never felt fear as I recall. Only thing I can recall was trying to do my best. Now at that age I wasn't the greatest skater, because I started hockey a little later than most kids. I was afraid playing out of the net because I couldn't keep up, would fall down...puck hitting my stick sending me flying. But in goal, I did pretty well. Remember I had a book from my older cousin, "Jacques Plante's Goaltending Tips", or something like that. 1960's edition. Had a bad game once and my 'friends' blamed it on me reading the book. ********!

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