Yesterday we introduced a new book – and a special offer for InGoal readers only – from Dallas Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley and USA Hockey Goaltending Scout Justin Goldman who have teamed up to interview top professionals about their experience in the game and the importance of the mental side in their success. The Power Within: Discovering the Path to Elite Goaltending aims to examine this most important aspect of our game in a unique way, one that is as interesting as it is informative. This is not a book of mental training exercises, goal-setting sheets and lessons on how to plan for performance.
Today we bring you another exclusive excerpt from the book so you can see what it’s all about. In this segment from Chapter 13, Valley is speaking with current St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.
Excerpt from Chapter 13: Talking with Brian Elliott
Valley: We all know that you dominated your junior and senior years at Wisconsin, so we’ll delve into a different topic now and discuss managing pressure. We often say that experience is the best teacher, and you learn what works for you. If you think about your development as a goaltender from playing juniors to now being an NHL All-Star, talk about experience. What has it done? What have you learned and what were some of the lessons that have been huge for you throughout your career?
Elliott: “I think a lot of the lessons you learn, you don’t even realize that you’re learning them, so I don’t know if I could put it into words. I think just the experience in itself is something that you have to go through in order to really understand how you deal with them internally, and without even thinking about it, you just kind of learn a way to deal with good and bad things. Even from growing up when I was little, I used to cry if I had a bad game and I let a bunch of goals in. I just couldn’t handle it. I think every kid goes through those stages where you want to be so good that it takes up all the energy you have, and you sometimes break into tears afterwards. If you’re serious about it, and you have that drive about you, I think for the guys that go places, you have to really care about it. I think you have to go through a little bit of that phase where you take games really hard and you’re being overly-hard on yourself. I still go through that at times, and I’m still learning to deal with the pressures, because when I came out of college, it was a pressure-filled atmosphere, but you had a standing ovation after every game just for trying. The fans were really on your side and they were backing you because they liked the school and they were Badgers. But when you get to the pro level, if you don’t produce, it’s your job, so if you don’t, you’re gone. So it’s a different kind of feeling. There’s times where to manage things, you have to learn to forget about it. If I go home and start thinking about a bad game or a loss, or even if I had a good game but a bad goal against, I won’t sleep. I think all elite goalies have a short memory. There’s times after the game where my d-men will come up to me and start discussing goals, but I won’t even remember goals at all, so I’ll have to watch the tape because I don’t remember it happening. So I try to have a short memory; tomorrow is the next day, and you just come out and work harder. Good, bad, or ugly, I treat it the same way.”
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To read the rest of the interview with Brian Elliott, and many others including Pekka Rinne, Marty Turco, and Tomas Vokoun, pre-order your own copy of The Power Within today. You can claim the exclusive discount for InGoal readers only by using the discount code INGOALMAG when you checkout. Click now to pre-order your own copy. Books ordered today will be available in early January.
Valley: So basically you’re trying to let go as quick as you can, move on to the next day?
Elliott: “Yeah, because the bad experiences I’ve had are when you can’t let go. Every good run, you don’t think about your success, you just go with it. I think right out of college, when I first got the call-up to Ottawa, I tied a rookie record for consecutive wins. They were like, ‘how did you do that,’ and my answer was that I wasn’t really thinking about it. I’m not trying to do that, I’m just trying to save every puck. It’s not a game as a whole, it’s just that every shot is a different scenario, and hopefully after all of those scenarios, you come out with a win.”
Valley: Well that’s a good answer and it’s similar to what Backstrom said in his interview. He said he never met a man that was able to change the past, so you just focus on living in the present and you don’t over-analyze things, so that helps us reinforce the same message.
Elliott: “Thinking about what Niklas said, one lesson I did learn – and I remember it and anyone who is having trouble, I pass it along because it meant a lot to me and still means a lot to me – it’s on the same lines of that. We had a team psychologist who was with Edmonton in the Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky days. When I was struggling in the AHL, we went out to lunch because I was worrying about things, and I was feeling the pressure of not producing wins in my first year as a pro. He said, ‘What can we do about it? Are you worrying about it?’ and I said, ‘Well yeah, I’m worrying. This is what I want to do, and I’m not doing it, and I don’t know what to do about it.’ And he said, ‘Well, how about I come over to your place later tonight and we’ll sit down and worry together, and we can worry for however long you want. I’ll stay up all night and worry with you if you want.’ You laugh after that, and that was it. That was his lesson; what is worrying really going to do for you? It’s counter-productive. I can worry all night about things, but it’s not going to get me anywhere. So you have to let it go, because worrying doesn’t do anything for you.”