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Canadiens hire Cup-winning Goalie Coach Waite

Canadiens hire Cup-winning Goalie Coach Waite

Carey Price and ex-Canadiens goalie coach Pierre Groulx discuss a drill prior to last season.

Carey Price and ex-Canadiens goalie coach Pierre Groulx discuss a drill prior to last season.

One of the highest profile goaltending coach positions in the National Hockey League has been filled.

The Montreal Canadiens announced Thursday they had hired Stephane Waite, who is coming off his second Stanley Cup in 10 years with the Chicago Blackhawks, ending more than a month of speculation since the surprising removal of the well-regarded Pierre Groulx after the season ended with a first-round playoff exit. Between Groulx’s departure and Waite’s hiring there was no shortage of high profile opinions offered on the state of Canadiens’ No.1 Carey Price, with everyone from Francois Allaire to ex-Habs goalie coach Roland Melanson weighing in – sometimes strongly – on what went wrong in a season that saw the Montreal star start strong and fade late.

Frankly, InGoal has yet to hear anything but positives about Groulx from any of the NHL goalies who have worked with him in Florida, Ottawa and Montreal, and he seemed to be on the same page with Price, both during summer ice sessions at the goalie’s summer home in Kelowna and during a pre-season session put on by CCM Hockey in Montreal prior to the NHL lockout. That visit led to the post-integration article on Dead Arm One-Knee Down in the January edition of InGoal Magazine, and Price certainly came out of the lockout playing well, earning plenty of praise and talk of being a lock for Canada’s 2014 Olympic team. But after a late-season collapse that saw Price playing uncharacteristically over-aggressive by the time his playoff ended prematurely with an injury appeared to cost Groulx his job.

After a wide-ranging search that included inquiries about other goalies coaches under contract, the Canadiens, eager to have someone with NHL experience, turned to Waite, a Quebec native with strong ties to Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin that pre-dates their time together with the Blackhawks. And, like Groulx, it’s hard to find a goalie with anything bad to say about Waite, who brings authority to the position after winning the Stanley Cup with both Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi in Chicago.

Waite talked Thursday about Price’s game, which had been scrutinized like no other in Montreal.

“I have a bit of an idea of where I want to go with Carey Price. I’m not planning on making any big changes. He’s already a good goaltender – one of the best in the league. It’s not like he needs to make changes from A to Z. He’s got a lot of excellent qualities and we’re going to work on things together,” Waite told reporters in Montreal. “I won’t just be working with them on a technical level. We’ll be looking at the mental side of things as well, like how to react after a bad goal or a bad game. It’s important to look at what happens afterwards. … I like goalies that are technically very sound, like Carey, but I also like it when a goalie knows how to get away from that technique and work off instinct when he needs to. Too many goalies in the league right now are too concerned with technique. It’s a matter of balance and being in control – not too aggressive, but not too passive either.”

It’s a theme that’s consistent with what Waite has told InGoal in the past, including an interview in 2010 that included a lot of good advice for goalies and goaltending coaches about evolving, as well as some prophetic comments and comparisons between European and Canadian goalies.

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  1. Paul Ipolito

    I’m confused. Is this not the gentleman who would bear some responsibility for Corey Crawford’s infamous glove hand issues? I seem to remember some discussion regarding Crawford’s problems during the playoffs. Hasn’t the glove hand also been an issue for Mr. Price?

  2. Dorothy Mcneil

    Stephane Waite the former Chicago Blackhawks coach will make the Montreal Canadiens unpredictable this year. As they have best winger now they have the best coach in the history.

  3. Ralph

    Cory Crawford does not have an issue with his glove hand unless he’s wearing that new Championship ring on it. The media and armchair goalies had an issue with it. Cory is the top goalie in the NHL far outshining Rask. It’s like he said,” if 99% of the shots are at his glove hand then odds are the ones that get by are going to be there”. He is the most solid and level headed goalie I’ve ever seen.

  4. Ted Wilson

    Congratulations to Waite for the appointment. Disappointing about Groulx, the challenge is it’s quick to point the finger at the coach behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s just about chemistry, a working relationship where ‘instincts’ are what win games, not just technical prowess of the tender. A lot of Carey Price’s technical training can be credited to Eli Wilson, who I believe is the best goalie coach overall. Good luck to the Canadiens in the fall, but my gut tells me whatever NHL franchise lands Wilson will be statistically odds-on favourite in the netminding department for the upcoming season.

    (BTW, I am not related to Eli Wilson… for those critics out there)