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Melanson reunited with Schneider as New Jersey Devils goalie coach

Melanson reunited with Schneider as New Jersey Devils goalie coach

Rollie Melanson has left the Vancouver Canucks organization to re-unite with Cory Schneider as the new goaltending coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Melanson spent the past season working part time as the Canucks development goaltending coach, working with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, after coaching full time in Vancouver the previous six seasons. That included working directly with Schneider for his first three full seasons in the NHL before he was traded to the Devils at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Melanson replaces Chris Terreri as the day-to-day coach with the Devils and Schneider, who is coming off his worst full NHL season statistically with a .908 save percentage, but Terreri will “remain with the organization in a capacity to be determined at a future date,” according to a team press release.

“I want to thank Trevor Linden and the Vancouver Canucks organization for allowing Rollie to join the New Jersey Devils,” Devils GM Ray Shero said in the release. “Rollie is well-respected throughout the League as a teacher and his experience with various goaltenders will be very beneficial. Additionally, I have enjoyed working with Chris the past two years and I am very happy that he will remain with the organization. His knowledge and passion will help us continue to grow as a team.”

Melanson played 291 NHL games during a pro career that started in 1980, winning three Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders before switching to goalie coaching with the Montreal Canadiens from 1997-98 through 2008-09. That included two seasons working with Carey Price, who still credits him for instilling the commitment to working on movement patterns he still relies on to stay sharp today. After being hired by Vancouver in 2010, Melanson played a strong role in Schneider adapting a deeper positional philosophy after playing more aggressively early in his pro career.

Melanson swapped roles with Dan Cloutier, who went from development to NHL goalie coach last season, but there is no indication yet who will replace Melanson with the Utica Comets. Kelowna Rockets video and assistant goaltending coach Adam Brown, whose father Newell Brown returned to the Canucks as an assistant coach this summer, worked with Cloutier on the ice at Vancouver’s development camp and got positive reviews from both the goalies and the coaches but there are no indications one way or the other he is in the mix for a development job.

The Melanson hiring in New Jersey rounds out a summer of goaltending coach moves in the NHL, many of which involved familiarity with the No.1 goaltender.

The Colorado Avalanche finally confirmed the hiring of Finnish goalie coach Jussi Parkkila on Friday, a move that was first reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman back in late May. Parkkila, who according to sources in the goalie coach community will be working in a full-time capacity with the Avalanche, worked with Colorado’s No.1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Varlamov has openly campaigned to bring him over to North America before, including during an interview on Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog shortly after the trade to Colorado, which pre-empted reported plans to return to the KHL and play for SKA Moscow rather than stay with the Washington Capitals:

How did this option with KHL’s SKA came up?

Why this team necessarily? I was considering offers from Lokomotiv, from SKA, there were also other options in the KHL. SKA’s biggest plus was that Jussi Parkkila is the goaltending coach there. I really wanted to work with this specialist, who has been working with me for the last four years and really helped me in the development of my career. I think the day Parkkila come over to North America and work in the NHL is not far away.

Maybe you can bring him over to Denver?

It would be my pleasure to do that. It’s not the easiest thing to do. But agents and I will try to make it happen.

For all the obvious focus on his relationship with Varlamov, the 40-year-old Parkkila has also worked with Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky during a 12-year career that also included time in the top leagues in Finland and Austria:

Similarly, the St. Louis Blues hired David Alexander as their goaltending coach for next season after mid-season replacement Martin Brodeur decided to return to his management job. In doing so the Blues got a built-in relationship with starter Jake Allen, who has sung the praises of his offseason coach to InGoal many times over the years, but Alexander was a smart and deserving hire for reasons well beyond that relationship. Just ask the goaltenders who worked with him during the past four seasons with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, including well-traveled veteran Mike McKenna, who finished his season as part of their run to the Calder Cup final, and gave this glowingly positive review in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

“They’re getting a meticulous, forward-thinking, progressive goaltending coach who understands the full spectrum of the position,” McKenna said. “Not just the technical side of it, but the mental side, the teaching side, he’s the whole package. I thought he was overqualified for the American Hockey League. I got to benefit from being with him for the last couple of months this year and he was fantastic.”

“He comes from an educational background. He has a degree in education and you know that when you’re with him because the way he presents his theories and his assessment of your game are from that standpoint. They’re very kind of bulleted, to the point, almost like you’re with a textbook. He’s a great guy, too, that’s the biggest thing. He’s a super dude and that’s what makes it just as much fun, is because you’ve got somebody that is very, very intelligent, but he’s also incredibly personable and he does not put himself, despite his wealth of knowledge, does not put himself above you as the goaltender and the athlete.”

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.