Ask a Pro: Luongo on Hydration, Heroes + Sharp Skates
As part of our weekly Ask a Pro segment, InGoal Magazine sat down this week to pose a handful of our readers’ questions to Vancouver Canucks standout stopper Roberto Luongo.
As usual your questions were quite insightful. Roberto got a kick out of a few of the most observant ones (kudos to reader Brandon Reinkensmeyer) and his answers brought new lessons on everything from the importance of a dynamic warm up, to hydration plans, to how often some NHL goalies change the steel in their skates.
One question we also got a lot of was about the changes he has made under new coach Roland Melanson this season, but since those have been asked countless times already in the first two months of this season, we will defer instead to the first InGoal article that broke them down in detail.
As for the rest of your questions, we’ll start with InGoal Magazine reader David Kerins, who asks: I would like Roberto’s theory on blocker usage. I don’t have trouble when deflecting shots to the corner, but straight on I always seem to punch the puck back into play.”
Roberto Luongo: “Whenever the puck is away from your body you try to angle it into the corner but sometimes when it’s straight on that’s a hard thing to do. You don’t want to get caught trying to put it in the corner and open up a seam under your arm pit or stuff like that. So sometimes a rebound in front is not a bad thing. Sometimes I’d rather have the rebound in front of me than to the side and have a guy there waiting to put it in. As long as you are square to the rebound you are in good shape.”
InGoal Magazine reader Brandon Andreasen from Las Vegas, NV asks: I recently saw a picture of your CCM Vector 10 skates. Can you please tell us more about the profile you are using on your blades?
Luongo’s skate secrets
Luongo may not be exactly sure about the profile of his skate, but the guy charged with sharpening them sure does.
Assistant equipment manager Jamie Hendricks, who just happens to also be a goalie, said both Luongo and rookie backup Cory Schneider have a 28-foot radius profile put on their skate blades, which are then sharpened at 3/8.
“It’s flatter, longer on the ice than a normal goalie skate,” said Hendricks. “With his foot being so big [Luongo wears a size 13 skate], he’s got that much more steel on the ice.”
Luongo also tends to notice when there is less steel between him and that ice, so the Canucks replace his blades three or four times a year, or about once every six weeks. Because a thinner blade, or less steel, could cause a goalie to catch their cowling when they want an edge to push off out of the butterfly.
“He wants it for the height,” said Hendricks, noting Luongo could tell right away if they put on an old blade that was worn down a little through all the sharpenings.
Roberto Luongo: “I do get them profiled but you’d have to ask [assistant equipment manager Jamie Hendricks] about that one (see the sidebar for his response) because I’m not sure about that stuff. But they are profiled before I wear them. I get them sharpened at 3/8 and I get them sharpened before every game. [editor’s note: Luongo also uses the Edge Protech device over the bottom of his posts in warm up to make sure he doesn’t lose an edge before the game: It’s big, especially nowadays you are taught to always go back to your post and slide and stuff like that so you are hutting the post a lot and that little piece of rubber makes a big difference saving your blade there.]”
InGoal Magazine reader B K Murphy asks: Dear Roberto. What is the best way to loosen up before a big game?
Roberto Luongo: “The main thing is big games are fun games to play in, so just get excited about playing and you’ll be loose mentally. I think subconsciously I always tried to have fun when it was a big game, but maybe when you are younger you don’t feel it as much because you just tend to be nervous and want to play well. Nowadays I still get nervous but you enjoy it a bit more and realize the importance of a game and what’s at stake. Over time you just develop a certain comfort level and feel for the game and how to prepare better and all that kind of stuff. And physically I just do my same routine: A 10-minute bike ride or warm up and then a stretch and usually that makes me feel pretty good before the game. I started doing a dynamic warm up when I hurt my groin a couple of years ago just to make sure that the blood is flowing and everything is warmed up and moving around before I get into the game action.”
InGoal Magazine reader Brandon Reinkensmeyer asks: “Mr. Luongo, I saw you play last year in Detroit. I had seats right behind Vancouver’s bench and noticed how during every TV break you would skate over and drink several squirts of water followed by several squirts of purple Gatorade. How much Gatorade or similar sports drink do you consume each game before, during, and after? Secondly, for us beer league goalies, how would recommend incorporating a sports drink into our routine? Thanks in advance and keep up the outstanding work, you are killing it for me on my fantasy team!!!”
Roberto Luongo: “Before not much. Once the game starts though I have a full bottle of Gatorade with electrolytes in it that I drink in between periods and every TV timeout like he saw, you know, take a couple of squirts and also as much water as possible. More than anything it’s water that I try to drink and then work in the electrolytes and all that kind of stuff during a game. It’s a process. You don’t want to start hydrating right before a game, start the night before and especially on game day you want to make sure you drink as much as you can so that you don’t get dehydrated before a game.”
Editor’s Note: InGoal spoke with Gatorade Sport Science institute researcher Lawrence Spriet some time ago about goalies and hydration.
InGoal Magazine reader Chris Carter asks: Roberto, who were your goaltending idols growing up?
Roberto Luongo: “Grant Fuhr was my idol growing up. That’s why I became a goalie in the first place because of his great glove saves. When I was a kid I really wanted to be like him, but I hit a point in my career, I would say when I was about 14 or 15 where I decided that I really wanted to be a technical goalie, square to the shooter, kind of more like Patrick Roy played in his career. That’s just the way the game is now if you look at, not only the NHL, but everywhere in the world everybody does the butterfly now. The effectiveness of that style, everybody wants to do it and that’s what works right now in the NHL and the whole hockey world that’s the style that’s most effective for goaltenders.”