InGoal had a chance to catch up with Jean-Sebastien Giguere for an Ask a Pro segment recently, and despite a long, hard session at the tail end of a game-day skate, the likeable Colorado Avalanche veteran took time to answer some questions from our readers.
(InGoal was also able to photograph a save and recovery sequence of Giguere that you will find at the bottom of this story)
The most popular question was about Giguere’s equipment, and the answers included a few surprises, especially for those familiar with the so-called “Giguere-break” option on Reebok pads. There was also a new addition to his Step Steel skate blades that was new to us at InGoal, a special carbon coating that produces an edge Giguere swears by.
Lets start, though, with a question about goalie coaching and the importance and structure of a good relationship between coach and student. In addition to providing some great guidelines for everyone on both sides of the coach-student dynamic, the 35-year-old Stanley Cup-winning veteran made it clear that contrary to popular opinion outside of the Avalanche locker room, he does not assume a part-time coaching role when it comes to the technique of athletic young playing partner Semyon Varlamov.
InGoal reader (and teaching contributor) Travis Harrington of Mind the Net goaltending asks: What does a pro goaltender look for in a goalie coach? What do you feel are the key elements to a good goaltender/goalie coach relationship?
Giguere: “The two goalies with the goalie coach have to have a good relationship, everybody has to get along. It’s like a team within the team. You have to stick together. You have to be on the same page. I believe the goalie coach should know exactly how you want to play every situation you will face. And these are situations you should always work on, all the situaitons you will face in a game, I don’t know, maybe 20, and each of those situation has an answer, each is a question that has an answer, right? And the goalie coach should know what your answer is to every situation, every question.
“So that way when he is watching video, he knows exactly the mistake you have made or the good play you have made. When you are working on a drill you know exactly how you want to play each situation. And these things are up for discussion too. You should be able to have an open discussion. If he sees that something is not working for you, he should be able to bring you a different scenario of a different answer and see if you like it. Both of you have to have an open mind and respect the other opinion, that’s the kind of relationship you have to have I think.”
~ What about your relationship with Varlamov? Most on the outside assume there is some coaching and mentoring involved there too?
Giguere: “First and foremost I am not his goalie coach. Some people make that assumption and that would be unfair for Kirk [McLean, Colorado's part-time goaltending coach]. Kirk is the goalie coach, he is highly competent, he knows what he is doing, and this relationship is between Semyon and Kirk. I can not start givng him mixed messages. That is their relationship. The same relationship I have with Kirk, he has to have too. They should know exactly how they want to play each situation, and Semyon being different than I am, that will be dffifernt. I am more here as moral support, try to stay positive for him, try to keep him upbeat and confident and be a good teammate. Every goal he gives up, I have given up before, and every situation he finds himself in is a situation I have been in before. But I don’t go into the technical stuff with him.”
~ Going the other way, have you picked up anything from Semyon?
Giguere (laughing): “I wish I could pick up on his speed and flexibility.”
~ InGoal reader Susan Armstrong Custer asks: What’s your best off ice training advice for young goalies?
Giguere: “Flexibility is always a good thing for a goalie, there is no doubt. But I think the most important things off ice is to make sure you hydrate well, you sleep well, you eat well, you don’t overextend yourself with extra curricular activities and you make sure you keep up some kind of a workout regiment. For us, you have to have an open dialogue with the conditioning coach. You have to tell him how you are feeling, but you have to keep up with your off-ice fitness. Even in-season if you are playing a lot, there are still things you can do. And back to flexibility, it is always one of those things.”
~ Alex Ogilvie asks on InGoal’s Facebook page: What made you want to try goaltending in the first place?
Giguere: “I was the youngest kid of five, so they stuck me in net. But basically I knew I was going to be a goalie the first time I tried it for real. I think we won 5-3, and I was hooked. And I liked all the gear too.”
~ Speaking of gear, InGoal got at least a dozen questions about your set up, so can you walk us through it? Let’s start with the pads because most have come to know Reebok’s single break below the knee option as a “Giguere break,” yet your pads are as straight as we have seen this side of Chicago’s Corey Crawford. Yet we also hear you went to the new “softer boot” option Reebok began offering with the launch of the P4 last season (read the entire InGoal review for all options).
Giguere: “I don’t mind the boot being softer, you can control your rebounds better. I like to keep my rebounds in front of me if I can and it makes it easier to kick your feet by flexing the toe so the puck stays in front of me. As far as the rest of the pad I like it as straight as it can be. The old way was just how they had the pad made, but I want it as straight as it can be.”
~ And with your narrow butterfly, that leaves you relying on your knees rather than your leg pads to close the five-hole, which makes the Swiss-made, carbon reinforced kneepads – commonly referred to as “Allaire” kneepads by our readers because they were used first by Francois Allaire students but now cover more than a dozen NHL goalie knees – an important piece of protection?
Giguere: “Yeah, I make a lot more saves with my knees and kneepads.”
~ And the rest of the set up
“The C/A is a Reebok P2 and I have worn it for years. I love this chest. And the pants are stock Reebok, I don’t do anything to them. You don’t want to get bruised, that’s the last thing you want. If you get hurt, you have to take care of it right away.”
~ Lastly, the skates: We noticed you are using a standard Step Steel, which has a slightly taller blade than stock, but not as exaggerated at the Step Steel Xtreme model (you can read InGoal’s review of both products in the October edition of the magazine). But there appears to be a black layer of some type on the outer edge, and Roberto Luongo told us it was something unique. What’s it all about?
Giguere: “We send the blades to a company in Quebec City called TS Labs and they treat it with a carbon coating. The edge holds a sharpening better but it is just a truer edge too. When you skate, it is just like so smooth, it’s like skating on the nice ice every day. And when you brake, it’s like a stiff, a hard brake, no skidding or bouncing, it’s like ‘bang.’ The edge is stiffer too. I have been using it for three years now, half the Boston guys are using it, and I really like it.”
Here’s a sequence of Giguere putting those edges and Reebok gear into use during a post-save recovery: