New York Islanders Hire Fred Brathwaite As New Head Goaltending Coach
Longtime NHL goaltender-turned-coach Fred Brathwaite has been hired as the new head goaltending coach for the New York Islanders. The 44-year-old will replace the role previously filled by a combination of Mike Dunham, who was with the Islanders for the past 11 seasons, and Marc Champagne, who helped out for the past two.
Dunham was offered a different role in the Islanders evolving goaltending department but declined for family reasons.
Although he has 254 NHL games to his credit, Brathwaite has really made a name for himself in recent years as one of the top goaltending coaches on the market through his work with Hockey Canada. He has been in charge of the under-20 program’s goaltenders, and more recently with the under-18 program’s goaltenders.
It’s a loss for Hockey Canada, but a major gain for Doug Weight and the rest of his coaching staff. He had some kind words for Brathwaite in an interview with NHL.com:
“Fred’s experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club. Not only has he had a solid NHL career, but he’s also worked with some of the top net-minder’s coming out of Hockey Canada. He’s ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization’s goalies.”
The Islanders have one of the more intriguing crops of young goaltenders in the NHL. Ilya Sorokin, likely their top goaltending prospect, recently signed a three-year extension to stay in the KHL – but there is more in their pipeline than just him. Linus Soderstrom, a 6-foot-3 goaltender out of Sweden, and Eamon McAdam give them plenty of youth and depth at the position.
Soderstrom was incredible this past season with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League, posting a .943 save percentage in 22 games. He followed that up with a .922 in 16 playoff games. He was also named the top goaltender at the World Junior championship in 2015-16. He recently signed his entry-level contract with the Islanders, but he is expected to be loaned back to HV71 for the upcoming season.
You may also remember him from a recent story in which he spoke openly about the challenges that he faces on the ice due to Asperger Syndrome. The syndrome places him in the high-functioning range of the autism spectrum, and he uses hockey as an outlet for the intense need to focus that he feels.
Working with younger goaltenders and once being a younger goaltender himself, Brathwaite has experienced almost everything. When Soderstrom arrives for the Islanders, it will be hard to find a more prepared goaltending coach than Fred Brathwaite – which may have been a factor in the decision.