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CHL Considers Euro Ban to Fix Canada’s Goalie Problem

CHL Considers Euro Ban to Fix Canada’s Goalie Problem
Laurent Brossoit Goalie Edmonton Oil Kings

Laurent Brossoit has developed into a top NHL prospect in the CHL. Will eliminating Europeans allow more Canadian goalies to follow his path? (Photo by Clint Trahan)

So much for taking a long, hard – and most would argue overdue – look at what might really be wrong with Canadian goaltending development.

It appears the powers that be in Canadian hockey may prefer to simply remove the competition.

According to a report from long-time hockey writer Damien Cox in the Toronto Star, the Canadian Hockey League is contemplating a ban on European import goaltenders as part of a solution for the ongoing crease crisis facing Canada in international competitions.

The report in The Star indicated the issue had been discussed with Hockey Canada at a meeting earlier this week:

“The CHL has had discussions in a broader sense with Hockey Canada,” CHL Commissioner David Branch told Cox in The Star story. “One of the ideas put forward was eliminating goalies from the annual import draft to allow more focus on North American goalies. … That is something we’re exploring.”

There is no shortage of stories about the decline of Canadian goaltending over the past few years.

From falling short of high expectations at the World Juniors and other international youth tournaments, to three Europeans being named as finalists for this year’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, to only one Canadian starter (Corey Crawford) left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to a really short list of no-brainer top candidates for next year’s 2014 Olympic team, the steady decline in the number of Canadian goalies playing in the NHL has finally trickled down a state of near panic at the lower levels.

If desperate times call for desperate measures, it seems the CHL, which handed its Vaughn Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year Award to Czech Republik-native Patrik Bartosak of the Red Deer Rebels (playing ahead of three Canadians after coming over at age 19, according to The Star report), is ready to lead the way with the drastic step of banning European goalies.

The idea of eliminating Europeans received support from Ron Tugnutt, the former NHL goalie who was recently let go as Hockey Canada’s goaltending consultant. Tugnutt believes the biggest problem facing goalie in Canada is a lack of opportunity at the top level:

“For me, it’s all about opportunity,” Tugnutt told The Star. “There’s nothing wrong with goalies in our country and there’s nothing wrong with how we’re developing them. They’re just not getting a chance to step up to the plate.”

That may indeed play a role, but maybe it’s also time to start asking why European goalies are more prepared to step up to the plate – at both the junior and professional levels. Maybe it’s time to ask why Hockey Canada’s goaltending development program is seemingly non-existent compared to the top-down models being implemented in Finland and Sweden, in many cases with Canadian born goaltending coaches playing a roll. InGoal Magazine has already begun talking to coaches who have been a part of programs on both sides of the Atlantic, including within the Hockey Canada structure, and the differences are staggering.

That’s not to suggest there is an easy answer, or pretend that InGoal has them all. Part of the problem may simply be the size of Canada in comparison to those smaller countries, and the fact Hockey Canada must work with – and not dictate to – the governing bodies of each province, added layers that make the implementation of a top-down goaltending program that much tougher. Whatever the reason, some suggest Canadian goaltending development is at least three to five years behind the Swedes and Finns, so it will be interesting to see whether those models are even discussed when the OHL hosts a symposium to address the problem next month.

In the meantime, InGoal will roll out a series of small articles looking at the problems, how they were solved overseas, and why similar models already attempted in Canada have failed to produce similar results. We know the parents, coaches, and goalies reading this will have some ideas, so by all means feel free to reach out to us about the problems facing developing goaltenders in Canada.

Maybe you think banning European goalies in the CHL is a necessary step. Maybe the fact Canadian goalie Zachary Fucale just won the Memorial Cup as a 17-year-old in the CHL and is the top goaltender for the upcoming NHL draft, a fact largely glossed over in The Star article, indicates the problem is somewhat cyclical and not as bad as some have made out.

Or maybe there is a problem in Canada, and it starts a lot younger than the CHL.

Let us know in the comments below.

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.


  1. Patrick O'Neill

    I can’t believe that they are bringing where someone is born into this. If they do this in the CHL there will be waves across the rest of the hockey world. Opportunity, seriously Tugnutt… has become so expensive and most of the time only the young boys and girls whose parents can fork over the thousands per year have opportunity. Many times the A players are playing AA and BB becasue they can afford the extra costs. When does a goalie in Canada get extra ice time? When Mom and Dad pay $$$$$$$ for extra goalie clinics, summer camps, etc., etc.
    And for the CHL to blame Europeans for their own inefficiencies in international competetions is just tasteless. Maybe the problem is with the coaching staff and maybe the wrong players are being selected…did anyone ever think of that? Just ask many English speaking hockey players in Quebec; what you do on the ice is sometimes not that important when compared to the name bar on your back. I could go on but I don’t want to continue with this rant. Banning Europeans screams BIGOTRY and does not deal with the real issues in minor hockey in Canada.

  2. JC

    Banning foreign trained goaltenders in the CHL is the wrong move, absolutely. If there is a goaltending crisis with Canadian trained goalies, banning overseas-trained goalies will only make the situation worse by incurring LESS competition and demand for that higher skill level. If the Canadian trained goalies are consistently being outplayed and outranked by their overseas trained counterparts, then the problem therefore lies in the training programs and systems. For years I have seen the systems of other countries pass Canada’s goalie training system, and the results are obvious at all levels. If Canada wants to see a true fix to the loss of dominance in net, then they need to rethink the training in Canada and how they go about producing goaltenders. It seems the rest of the world has adapted to the ever changing landscape of hockey (with respect to goalies) while Canada has yet to. We’re still resting on the laurels of our 90’s and early 2000’s dominance.

    • JC

      And besides which, shouldn’t it raise red flags EVERYWHERE even with just the notion of banning foreign trained goalies in the CHL? Look what it did for the NHL in the early years through the 70’s and look what happened when the Soviet Red Army came in with their modernized systems and slapped the NHLers around silly. This type of isolationist theory is purely a panic reaction and in no way addresses the underlying issues.

    • Jeffery Allen

      JC: How do Canadian goalies even get a look if the scouts are cruising around Europe? The scouts need to be spending time in Canada looking at the Canadian goalies first. Sure they are good over there but trust me, there is some good talent brewing here, give our kids a chance. There are plenty of European leagues for the Europeans to play in.

    • Ted Wilson

      JC, well said. The bottom line is the cream always rises to the top. Sure, we can look at the statistics of where top performing goaltenders originate (birthplace), but the reality is those tenders that are committed to source out the best, commit to the process and rise up. Yes, it ends up being elitist (financially into the 10’s of thousands annually as your child progresses in tiers and seeking out the best and most competent instruction, tournament showcases etc.).

      I also agree with Jeffery Allen in that there is great talent brewing here in Canada – there is excitement at the grass roots level with the complexity and athleticism that is required for today’s modern-style goaltender – the only challenge is that there could be much more talent being identified and nurtured if there was a national standard of training and coaching, with a national body administering this initiative.

      These forums are wonderful for an exchange of ideas, and I thank you for your comments and opinions.

  3. eurogoalie35

    this is dumbest thing i ever hear. just because i not canadian dont mean i cant play at top level.

    • Jeffery Allen

      So the CHL is it? It’s the top level? No decent hockey in Europe? THen how did you get so good? By seeing crappy shots?

  4. Jonathan

    Right on point as usual when you discuss goaltending development in Canada. The logic on barring imported goalies doesn’t really hold up. This is the equivalent of downing a ton of advils to cover the pain of an knee. Sure, you might not notice it as much, but the problem is still there.

    In reality, competition from over seas should be a driving motivator. Unfortunately, the will of the young goalies doesn’t seem to be the problem: its their trainers. And like any industry that’s been established, those already in it are very reluctant to changes that forces them to reconsider their ideas. Its easier to just stamp your system over and over again, especially if its a robotic system that doesn’t require teaching goalie intuition and creativity to get the job done.

    What I’m wondering is why isn’t the US in the same boat? Why does the US have Cory Schneider, Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller (the legend of the 2010 Olympics who now would likely not make the team for the sheer depth of US goaltending)? Why does it seem that the US seems to produce goaltenders closer to Finland’s or Sweden’s quality when it is Canada’s neighbor? From Ryan Miller in the olympics to Tim Thomas in 2011 and Jonathan Quick in 2012 (and these playoffs, too)… where is this high pressure, strong goaltending coming from?

  5. Jason

    I started Playing Goal whe I was about 10. I seen quickly the cost of the equipment and going to goalie school. We cant help the cost of equipment, Thats on the manufactures. How ever I think the Canadian Government can do something. Maybe help cover cost on Equipment, league fee’s, clinics and training etc… Banning Euro’s is not right… if anything the CHL should be Canadians only in my opinion.

    • icedaddy007

      the CHL was originally designed to develop North American kids, but it has been turned into a business now where the all mighty $$$ speaks louder then developing. teams want their barns full, they want the best possible team out on the ice, and yes, maybe a european player will bump a north american kid and take his spot to develop. these kids all want to develop, but now at what cost are our kids not allowed to develop.

  6. Ray

    I’ve played as a goalie for over 30 years and now have three boys in minor hockey in Atom, Novice and Timbits/Initiation. I honestly believe the issue starts at the lowest level.

    Minor hockey organizations (at least where I am) that refuse to provide goalie coach education to wiling volunteers nor coaching materials.

    Parents who put their children into nets without considering the required skill set nor the organization providing those parents information to make an informed decision that will affect the rest of their child’s hockey playing life.

    Organizations that allow coaches/parents to put their child in as a full time goalie during initiation/Timbits that results in stunted development of required skill sets such as skating and puck handling.

    Kids being put into nets because their skating abilities are behind their peers and parents who feel this ia a wy for their child to participate without being embarrassed (and in some cases ruining a kids love for the game because they can’t mentally deal with the frustrations that often occur).

    Parents who think their kid has to play every game and thus foster inappropriate attitudes in their children.

    And of course coaches who have no clue how to develop a goalie, or who won’t point out the obvious to a parent (such as your kid doesn’t have fun in nets….)

    I think what I am tying to say is that in my experience, minor hockey associations provide little to no guidance on goalie development and as a result the wrong kids go in net for the wrong reasons. My oldest is a very good goalie for his age. Maybe number 2 out of 8 who played at his level in his organization. But because I refuse to let him be a full time goalie (which he actually agrees with) he suffers because other parents think their child should have priority in nets. They don’t realize the benefit to allowing kids to develop both skill sets.

    • Alexander

      In my opinion the problem starts with a shift in society (over the past ‘x’ years) to a fair play model. I realize statistically most kids are in hockey (and all sports in general) are enrolled for a ‘healthy lifestyle’, learning team dymanics and relationships, etc. Absolutely, the right reasons to ‘play’. Unfortunately, this mentality in some small way undermines the primal competitive nature of elite athletes (as we are referring to in THIS article). I am not elitist, but in the context of this discussion goalies are generally ‘forgotten’ in relation to their ‘skating’ teammates in development in minor hockey. Those parents that argue for equal ice (in net or otherwise) are invariably doing their child a dis-service soley on a ‘compete level’.

      Yes, every player deserves to treated with respect and not all players can be treated with the same ‘push’. The good coaches are the ones who can get the most out of their players by knowing their players individually. In life, in sport and in business opportunities are earned through hard work and dedication. Yes, training is fundamentally important to the position, but if at an early age the partipant is rewarded (on an equal basis) when the dedication (and skill skill development) may not be equal, I trust you’ll see the problem here. The CHL issue at hand here is a culmination of the ‘fair play’ mentality coming to a head. By banning Euro CHL goalies, you are only pushing the lack of elite Canadian goalie ‘problem’ on to the next level. What next, ban Euro NHL goalies? I don’t think so, too big of a business and the owners of the teams (who learned how to win the in business ‘arena’) are looking for this mentality in thier ’employees’, the players. Work hard, play hard … success will follow.

      My son is on the doorstep of the CHL, goalie. Yes i would dearly love to ban imports at his position, but being pushed for his ‘job’ will serve him so much better in life after hockey.

    • Wes

      There are a couple of problems with that start well before the CHL level. The first one is the complete lack of goalie development in the minor hockey system. The benches are manned by coaches that were typically players and know almost nothing about goaltending. It is an inconvenience for them to incorporate goaltender drills into their practices so young goalies simply become targets for the players. Many times big egos or politics keeps them from listening to the advice of goalie schools or goalie parents who have become knowledgable. As a result my son’s skills regress each year in minor hockey.
      The other problem is that, in Canada, parents are left to plan and fund a goalie program. This includes paying for goalie school, finding spring teams where a young goalie can play against challenging players and get good shots, paying for stretching & flexibility sessions and off ice training. This can cost thousands of dollars a year. If Canada wants to develop elite goalies, then there are easy to implement programs that can be integrated into minor hockey, well before the CHL.

  7. Mike Upton

    I’m 41 and I’ve been in goal for 30 years. I have an 11yr old in PeeWee who has had the pads on since he was 5. The comments above are correct; the problem is our coaching program, and access to the position.

    I was a coach in minor hockey for 8 years, focusing solely on the new young goaltenders who’s parents don’t even know which leg which pad goes on. But over time I became so disenchanted with the coaching program offered by the CHA, for all the certifications, evening courses, fees, etc, and none of it having anything to do with goal tending. As coaches we could be overwhelmed with clinics on stickhandling, power skating, playmaking, etc. But unless your son’s or daughter’s team is lucky enough to have a Dad who is up to date on the current goaltending techniques and equipment your little goaltender will simply be asked to stand in the net and block shots. There will be no further instruction, and in the younger ages you’ll be lucky if the kid is still keen half way through the season.

    Our local association does even less. From their perspective if a goaltender gets 2 or 3 hours of goaltender instruction over the course of a season they are then considered trained. Otherwise the practice times allotted to the team are for the forwards and the defence and if you want specialized training for your goalie it will be out of your own pocket and on your own time. I have brought this up with our league for years, and I have volunteered to help fix the issue but our association believes there is no problem.

    It’s for these reasons I am no longer a certified coach and instead I support only my own kid and whatever goalie he may be sharing the net with.

    My son is fortunate because his dad is passionate about goaltending and we have the means to invest in his training. I spend several thousand dollars a year on this and his equipment. But he often shares his practice ice with young goalies who are wearing sub-standard equipment and whom, at the same age, have a fraction of the training he has.

    The problem is not foreign goaltenders, or lack of opportunity. The problem is our program, our training, and access to the position. Unless the CHA wakes up and addresses this issue at the grass roots we will continue to see the sport and the position taken over by countries that are getting it right.

    • Ray C

      I think we must be in the same organization!! I think you stated it much better than I did… Well said.

    • Rich

      I agree fully with Mike Upton. It is laughable, and we chuckle often because we see this often(always). In our experience goaltending and goalies are ignored. Totally ignored. At the end of each season in the GTHL, the coaching staff blusters and trades away their goalies. No coaching, no training, no communication, no equipment, (although we get invited to come out when the other players get their gloves, helmets, pants and sometimes sticks from company reps). No one talks to the goalies on the bench or at practices. Coaches don’t even simply rely on an informed opinion,ie ‘goalie coach’, to deal with their tenders or seek advice. And I mean this literally and near 100%, during our decade of goaltending experience
      My son has been in top level, AAA hockey for almost a decade.And that includes this past year in Minor Midget which was just as inadequate an experience. It would be an embarrassment to name the recent high level teams my son has played on. But I mean the top AAA level in the GTHL and in OMHA.
      Each organization should have a ‘Head Goalie Coach’ with each team under him having or sharing a hands on coach. Head Goalie Coach informs team goalie coaches and team goalie coach informs the coaching staff. Needless to say training, workshops, coach education, equipment and communication become part of this picture.

  8. Mike Pelrine

    But Canadians have no problem playing in the NCAA? This is ridiculous, they should be evaluating coaching and development, not banning players due to their birth nation. If anything, Euro’s should force the Canadian boys to play harder with the competition.

    • icedaddy007

      the development of our goalies is the issue. as i have read so far, its us former goalies who are the one’s training our kids, because we know what it takes, and we want to see our kids succeed. their are programs available, and we have to push our local associations to get the info, training for the coaches. before my oldest kid was old enough to skate i offered my association to be a rotating goalie coach for the different teams in our association. uh, thanks but no thanks. i started back into coaching last year, and i began working with my oldest on the back yard rink to develop some basic skills for goal tending. And yes, we also played some one on one to practice skating and shooting skills. I have got both my boys on roller blades this summer, and they play hockey in the driveway and they practice shooting on the shooter tutor. I am trying to do what I can, i only wish i had more hours in the day

  9. MN Goalie Dad

    My 11 year old started playing hockey at 5 and became a goalie at 9. We are from Minnesota which seems to have a similar goalie development issue to Canada. I couldn’t agree more with the above posts regarding the problem starting at the youth levels. All too often, teams fail to have an even moderately knowledgeable goalie coach at practices. Furthermore, I have seen many head coaches with absolutely no clue how to develop their goaltenders. The expectation is that they show up to practice to be a backstop for their skaters. No coach at practice pays any attention to the young goaltender as shot after shot, he develops bad habits because they have no clue what they are looking at. They expect the goaltender to magically show up with the skills they need to play and remark about how great the number of pucks they see in practice is for them. Programs provide a handful of goalie specific training sessions which are a small fraction of the total practice hours they partake in and feel they’ve done their part. This forces goalie families to spend more money to attempt to balance their training and/or fix the bad habits they acquire at team practices.

    Furthermore, head coaches then commence to kill their goalies mental confidence when they punish them for mistakes in games by pulling them or shorting playing time. For example, several weeks ago my 11 yr old was pulled from a game in the 1st period after yielding 2 goals (not soft). No coach uttered a word to him during, at intermission or after the game about why. He asked me after the game why he got pulled for giving up two good goals. I’m not sure what part of development of youth goaltenders this fits into. All the while skaters might miss a shift or two after being given direction on the bench as to what they are doing wrong. Then we wonder why attracting talented athletes to the goaltending position is more and more difficult. Who would volunteer to put their talented young athlete in this position given a choice?

    I believe our local association has moved in the right direction in youth goalie development. Each team is required to name a dedicated goalie coach. Often times this coach doesn’t have goalie experience but is asked to learn and focus on it. Each goalie coach is required to attend professional goalie training sessions with the team’s goalies that are provided by the association twice a month throughout the season. They then take what they learn to the team’s practices and focus on reinforcing good habits through constant attention.

  10. Rico

    I’m a Dad of an 18 year old goalie from Europe playing in Canada for 2 years now. My son is working extremely hard to achieve his goals & his dream. He stepped between the pipes at the age of 5. He always had a goaltending coach in the organization he was playing in, because in Europe all coaches believe that a skilled goalie is worth 60% to 70% of a team. So it’s just logical that you invest time & education to develop goalie skills. If CHL has a problem with goalie development so better get the problem solved by the roots. What do you tell a young athlete that read in newspaper he can’t go on in the game he loved because he was born on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean?

    • Paul Ipolito

      Great post! I agree 100%. I am amazed the Canadians would ever entertain such an absurd idea.

    • Jeffery Allen

      There are import limits already, what are we telling the other 17 Europeans that don’t fill the Canadian roster completely? Nothing, we are saying there are limits. So what if we amend our limits. 2 spots per team, that’s it. 2 goalies, not 19 per team. If there were 19 goalies per team then that’s cool, lots of our goalies would be getting a crack. Right now they are at a disadvantage. Give our Canadians a shot. If we suck that bad, you’ll get the call.

    • icedaddy007

      very understandable. Hockey Canada has been standing still while the rest of the hockey world has caught up and passed us on many aspects. as an example, our local hockey association just shot down a program that a few parents of 4 year old wanted to implement to begin training 4 yr old with skating skills and giving them a chance to learn some hockey skills. the close mindedness of the coaches of the older age groups is the one’s that shot it down. the biggest problem is bigger minor hockey associations think they need to have a big board, meet every month. problem with that is they end up wasting time dealing with complaints of parents. minor hockey in canada is way too political. I had taken a specialty coaching clinic this past winter and the instructor had been in Finland to see how their system works. i can’t imagine what parents think if they knew their kids would not play any games until age 9. here, it is based on having games, and trying to fit in practice somewhere in there.

  11. Paul Ipolito

    This proposal would an incredibly dumb solution to this “problem”. You should welcome the competition. That is how you get better. We are all driving better cars in 2013 because in 1983 the Japanese taught the Big Three how to build better cars. I cannot begin to imagine the hand-wringing that will take place up north if the Canadian goalies bomb out in 2014.There won’t be enough ink and electrons in the world to cover that story.

    • Jeffery Allen

      It’s not competition. How do you compete when you don’t have the chance to play at the elite CHL level because an import sits in 1 of only 2 spots?

  12. Margie

    I think this would be the most ridiculous ban. Hockey Canada is putting the blame on goaltenders from Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic because they cannot develop their own goalies. Import goalies are not as common as the naysayers seem to think they are. Most of these netminders who are not doing well in Canadian junior hockey are actually North Americans, playing alongside other North Americans. Canada is a country that prides itself on the contributions and exploits of people from other countries but, when it comes to hockey, they get extremely possessive like, “This is OUR sport! Leave it alone!” Goalies here need better coaching and development, both on and off the ice. If they want to be the best, they need to play with and compete with the best. Many of these goaltenders from Europe, too, are ones who find themselves fast-tracked to the professional ranks way too quickly in their homelands and, on several occasions, they find themselves competing with North American goalies there who want to take their jobs. For example, I have a friend in Denmark who plays in the AL-Bank Liga and he has found himself losing his job to a North American. We need to be more accepting and not ban European goalies because they’re more talented than we are. We need to be more welcoming and allowing them to play in the best junior leagues in the world.

  13. Paul Ipolito

    At least Hockey Canada had enough sense to get rid of Tugnutt. Is this acknowledgement that the problem started at the top? (As it usually does)

    • Jeffery Allen

      Great move!

  14. Steve McKichan

    Maybe the goalie coaches in Canada aren’t that good.

  15. Steve McKichan

    Based on results and goalies developed, recent newspaper articles suggest something is lacking in Canadian goalie development.

    There are many causative inputs but if I dare say so, as a collective our goalie coaches in Canada are not very good.

    I am by no means espousing my greatness and I have many flaws coaching wise but I will say this.

    Because of non existent oversight, no accreditation, no baseline competency and general ham eggery we have a very hap Hazzard sublime collection of goalie coaching “professionals”.

    There are clearly great professional well learned goalie coaches but they are rare.

    What I believe is the case is much different.

    Here is what I see:

    1) I know an OHL goalie coach on a top program with street hockey playing background only, no post secondary education, and struggles to talk coherently. But because he will accept crap pay and loves to xxxxxx lick he affects athletes a breath out of the NHL.

    2) GCs that see $ and develop their secret sauce and believe their way is the only way and everyone else sucks.

    3) gCs that played and teach from the 70’s and 80’s

    4) GCs that attended hockey camps and simply mimick what they saw and learned with out critical thought.

    At the end of the day, there is a lack of any goalie coaching at all and in a majority of cases inept goalie coaching in Canada.

    Without structure and legitimate problem solving this scenario of poor Canadian goaltending is locked in for the long term.

    • Mike

      My understanding is that in some parts of Europe, Scandanavia in particular, there is actually certification for goaltending coaches. To your point, here in Canada anyone can call themselves a goalie coach.

      • Joe

        In Sweden there are certifications for goalie coaches. It all starts with a common Basic course that all coaches attend. Then there are three GC-courses to attend but you also have to pass a couple of general PT-courses in order to qualify for the next GC-course. All in all:
        Basic course
        GC 1
        PT 1
        GC 2
        PT 2
        GC 3

        Most clubs have several inhouse goalie coaches as well as external instructors. One hour of goalie practice every second week is rather normal in Sweden.

    • Joe Boutette

      Maybe I’ve just had good luck at finding the good ones, between you Mr. St Croix, and Chris Woodward out of calgary I’ve never had a problem with finding someone who is good at what they. Yes im not in the NHL but Chris got me out of retirement of 7 years and got me playing Sr AA again right out of the gate, and his clientele is nowhere near as high profile as yours or Ricks. That being said I’ve seen goalies come out of camps like GDI and wont listen to a word your saying cause they’re stone cold set in their brainwashed ways

    • icedaddy007

      most of the kids playing now have the technical skills, they just need fine tuning, someone who can show them what went wrong on a play and what they need to change. goal-tending is way more mental then skills. you can teach anyone the skills, what you need is to create the proper mental skill set and the know how to continue the play and not worry about goals getting past.

  16. Trevor Green

    This is exactly like saying ” little timmy isnt doing as well as the other boys, so were going to just cut everyone so he can get more experience”. As a Canadian born goalie, if we can’t be good enough to make it to the higher level, we need to get better, that is what it comes down to. These over sea goalies arent born with an extra ability to play better, they work hard and have good coaching. Punishing them for being better is a slap in the face to them and us, saying we won’t be better then them so we need to get rid of them.

    • Jeffery Allen

      No, this is saying that Timmy is just a good as Sven, so let’s make sure we work at developing some product for our own hockey programs and give Timmy the nod in OUR CANADIAN Hockey League. Don’t ASSUME Timmy is junk. We have great goalies here being shelved by great European goalies.

      • Jan

        The demand for import goaltenders in the CHL is only a result of a lack of quality goaltenders in Canada. There’s no way in hell CHL team picks European kid over a Canadian if they’re the same in terms of performance/potential. The Europeans have to really shine in order to get a chance in the CHL. Moreover, I think that the teams are not too keen on using their precious import picks on goaltenders.
        There aren’t even that many import goaltenders in the CHL to seriously hinder overall Canadian goaltending development. As it was stated by many, it’s too late to start solving this on a junior level.

  17. Adam

    next to be weeded out….. daddy owners

  18. Jay Schurman

    I think MN goalie dad hits the nail on the head!
    I run a year around, real ice training facility, fully equipped with top of the line vision training equipment (valued at well over $50,000), full crease slide boards($2000), real ice with a crease ($45,000-$50,000), 6000 or so pucks and to top it all off I’am a certified mental game coach with a BSW to go with my actual on ice experience. Not to mention that I worked as a head instructor for many years for a recent former NHL goalie coach.
    I have tried offering my services to minor hockey at a fraction of what other places charge and to no avail, and this is in an area where commerical square footage is around $60. At one point I was told by tournament organisers that they didnt want to promote goalie training at the novice level as it will hamper their overall development. To me that phrase alone is the epitamy of what is wrong with Canada’s goalie devlopment program. Check that, the lack of Canada’s goalie development program
    The kids that I train on an individual basis slowly start working out the bad habits that they have aqquired through years of being self taught, only to have them disappear for a week and come back with the same bad habits from team practices. I had a young goalie come in and after 5 or so drills he said to me, you know these drills are great and I understand the purpose of tracking the puck, rebound control and solid bio mechcanics but that is not how my practices are set up, I don’t have time to track the puck into my glove or blocker or pad, I dont have time to square up to rebounds because a second and third shot are coming. I’m sorry but It does not matter what league or nationality you are, if this is what you are taught in practice, this is how you will perform in a game. If this is how you perform in a game, I guarantee you will have a losing season.
    These are only a few of the issues that I have had to deal with so far, but I’m hoping that our minor hockey assoc. is moving in the right direction now. But my question is, if this is happening in my town, then is it happening in other places in Canada as well?

    • Steve

      This is the way it has been for my 25 years coaching goalies.

      • Jay Schurman

        “This is the way it has been for my 25 years coaching goalies.”
        Now I’m not quite at it for 25 yrs lol yet! but I do agree with many of your previous comments, about inadequete coaching. At first thought after reading your post I have to say I was a tad bit perturbed, but after putting some thought in to it, and looking around in my province, there are maybe 3-4 really good training facilities that may employ 5-6 good coaches, and that is for a whole provice. Not to mention that they do work outside the province as well which spreads them out even more. So an honest assessment would be similar to yours. But I believe it is a combination of poor/ lack of qualified coaching, and unqualified people making the decisions on goaltending development and a poor roll out.
        Just my 2 cents

  19. paul szabo

    The landslide of comments on this story show how strongly people feel about this problem. And reading through the list one can quickly identify a big part of the “why”: minor hockey associations do not have competent coaches, and if they do they are only for the highest level and the thinnest slice of the pie.

    A friend of mine who works with us at Passau Hockey is an ex pro and goalie coach in Europe. He says that no matter what level you play at, club or elite, there is an experienced goalie coach (i.e. a guy like him with a diploma and a background in goalie coaching) on the ice. He feels that even in an obscure hockey nation like Hungary, where he comes from, up to pee wee level his kids are as good or better than Canadians because of superior basic skill development. After that age their development falls off because they can only play in adult leagues due to low numbers. He deplores how in Canada there is so much emphasis on selection and competition and not on skill development.

    I have been involved in minor hockey with my son for about 8 years and have been involved in goalie clinics that one of the associations ran for their goalies every week. These types of clinics are slowly becoming more common but are far from universal. Some associations do nothing. Some others here in Quebec city have one goalie technician who divides his time amongst a dozen or more teams. AA gets him on a regular basis, BB and CC maybe once a month, single letter maybe once or twice a season. This proves what my European friend has said: only the smallest number get access to a proper coach.

    One of the unfortunate aspects of hockey culture is the mentality that has every team doing its own practice instead of sharing resources. When my son played soccer the minor association would have clinics every week for defensemen only, goalies only etc., with a qualified coach. So many hockey practices are so poorly suited to the goalie (slap shots from the hash marks in the head, too many shots at once and no recovery time, static drills the goalie does not move or reposition) that they are of almost no benefit.

    In soccer

    • retooled coaching

      Yuuup! Right on the money.

  20. paul szabo

    One more point: the comment about the cost of equipment is something that I might take issue with. It costs way more to equip a goalie in Europe. Team fees are higher since every club is privately run.

  21. Swags

    At first I thought this was a stupid, nanny-state-borne idea. However, in the spirit of the the league being the Canadian Hockey League, perhaps all players should only be Canadian to keep it real.

    That said, all this will probably really do is force-feed lesser goalies into the system just for the sake of them representing a certain nationality. If they were good enough, they’d bead out the Euro talent, at least in theory.

    • Steve Mckichan

      You do know there are many USA based teams in the CHL right?

      • Swags

        Steve, you’re seeing the point here. My ironic comment is that the CHL isn’t going to fix issues by excluding others that are actually better at what they do.

    • Jeffery Allen

      Why assume Canadian goalies are LESSER? Line every goalie in Canada up and put them through the paces. If you can honestly tell me there is nothing there so we need to go get stoppers from Europe, then I will say you are smoking something bad.
      Give the Canadians first crack. There is only 2 spots per team remember…

  22. retooled coaching

    Not a good idea in my mind. For the last two years I’ve had a goalie coach with my spring team. here’s what he told me. Your drills are great but the goalie dosen’t have time to track the first shot before the second one comes. Goalies are taught at goalie schools to track the puck after the shot has been made and then reset for the next. Many coaches just think that the goalie just stops the puck no big deal. Well, I now have restructured my drills to allow that to happen. If the next shooter is to tight for the goalie to properly get ready after tracking the puck the players are told to just put it in the net so as to not mess up the flow of the drill or injure the goalie. I also have the goalie empty the net for each drill and challenge them to have the lowest goals against for each drill. Even though there maybe a few that just get there easly from not being set it all balances out in the end. I guess what I’m trying to say is that all coaches should have to take a goalie coaching course. Thanks!

    • MN Goalie Dad

      Good to hear! I’ve been telling my son to do the same thing on his own since the coaches have no interest making any adjustments. The excuse usually given is they would get less productivity out the ice time for the skaters. There are more skaters than goalies and they need to keep those parents happy for the money they’ve paid.

      I’ve told my son when the pucks come too fast to play every other one. If it gets to be too much, just get out the net for a few minutes. Funny enough several times the coach didn’t even realize the net was empty because he never looked back.

      We also have discussed a few high impact things to focus on each practice. Rather than try to play every puck or follow the entire drill, focus on one short move to get the shot and track the rebound. This leaves the decisions of what to work on in his hands. Pretty sad we have to expect 11 year olds to essentially coach themselves to get the most out of a drill. The bright side is he is learning to take ownership of his own improvement. However, it only works out well some of the time after all he is 11 but he is slowly getting better at it.

  23. Steve

    Perhaps some of the issue could be focussing on the wrong attributes early in the development stage and part of this may be driven by the need to win at all levels. My sense is that often goalies are selected for higher level teams based on their size and how much net they fill, overlooking athletic ability. Sure a smaller goalie at the pee wee and bantam levels are going to let in more goals up high, over their shoulders and will leave more net to shoot at, but as they grow and catch up in size, if their technique is good, most of those gaps will go away. Meanwhile, by not making the higher level teams early on in their development, they are facing lower quality shots, perhaps not getting the same level of coaching and maybe not the same amount of ice time.

    Continuing on the idea of athleticism, hockey in Canada has become a 10 to 12 month a year thing. If you are not playing spring hockey and doing camps all summer, you are falling behind everybody else. I fall into the same trap. Goaltending is a different position and requires different skill development than players. The amount of position specific work that you get during a game and even a practice is somewhat limited. Overall athletic ability, particularly where goaltending is concerned, is probably better served participating in other sports during the off season. I don’t know for certain, but I would guess that many of the import goaltenders playing and having success in the CHL spent a good amount of time playing football (soccer).

  24. Paul Ipolito

    This question/problem has reached the “analysis-paralysis” point. Goalie-training issues have existed for approximately forever. `Maybe the focus should be on training athletes and not goalies.Seriously folks, how many ways can there really be to teach a kid to keep his gloves out and up, stay square and track the puck? How did this turn into rocket science?

    • Robert

      Finnish goalies are trained as goalies from a young age. There is no analysis paralysis problem in Finland. Just well-trained goalie coaches training goalies to succeed by focused skill training in a highly specialized position.

      Goaltending is not rocket science, but it’s so much more than being a wall.

  25. Steve MckIchan

    “Keeks, you should just spearhead an unofficial Hockey Canada goaltending movement. Screw the powers that be!”

    You won’t get high level professional coaches to fix this because it cuts their own throats business wise.

    My honest position in this is that there is no $ in it for me.

    I have given several hundred free lessons and even more free coaching clinics over the last 25 years.

    But now, it is about $.

    Not to be cynical, but this topic will not change even after I am long time fully retired. From a business model, if things continue to suck it is good for business…….. Very good for business.

    Do you think mom and dad would buck up for my “Butch Harmon” fee structure if they had competent in house goalie coaching available?

  26. Larry Sadler

    so once again if we can’t reach the bar we try to lower it – true excellence comes in raising your game not lowering your expectations!! 3 years ago I told anyone who would listen that Cdn goaltending development was in trouble and suddenly the “powers that be” are listening.
    I am reminded of the comment ” It wouldn’t be so hard to try and lead if I didn’t have to spend so much time looking back to see if anyone is bothering to follow!!!”

    • RC

      My son just finished Minor Midget. Played in the GTHL and OMHA(SCTA), Toronto area and always AAA. All these years, very little from his 4 different teams in training, direction, equipment, workshops, bringing a goalie coach to practice, communication on the bench, communication concerning his development etc… Goalies are an after thought in terms of development although coaches want the puck stopped. At the end of each season aprox. 80% of goalies get dropped by there team. Coaches dont seem to have a clue and haven’t caught on that ‘asking a goalie coach’ ,of which there are many of high calibre around would be a great first step. Each organization should have a Head Goalie Coach with each team having or sharing a Goalie Coach. At 1 team practice per week, pre season and in-season workshops.

      • Larry Sadler

        RC – I feel your pain!!! I am constantly contacted by parents and goalies who desperately need proper goalie instruction. I am now working 6 days a wk teaching at a private facility in Pickering (PuckHogs) love working with kids but it does makes me wonder about the quality of instruction out there. Obviously there is a need for a more structured progressive goalie program based on sound biomechanics. That’s why I travel to Finland each year to work at their top goalie school

        • RC

          Again, we have found lots of good goalie instruction. From Atom to Minor Midget my son has been trained well. But not by the team, nor the organisation, nor the league. League to coaches, goalies are ignored or lip service is paid. That is no development program. I imagine they do it differently in Europe…am I right.

          • Robert

            I can’t speak for Europe, but in Finland private instruction is rare. The clubs take responsibility for training the players (too much, IMHO).

  27. Jake

    There are many places to take this topic, but in the hockey world goalies are goalies regardless of where they are born. Canadian goaltending has undergone a slide it the recent years. The training has been deficient, however, I would argue that American goalies are on the rise and there are much less opportunity for goalie specific training. It goes back to a desire to get better. Regardless of the training availability, the determined goalies will develop by any means necessary. What is the difference in an american or a canadian goalie going overseas to train and then come back and play in one of the canadian junior programs and vice versa. Hockey is the best sport in the world and the diversity is one of the core values of the sport. If you ban euro goalies, the only thing it is going to do is show in international competitions. There are a few stand outs that are canadian now, so Tugnutt’s opportunity comment was completely false. Require instructor certification and you have your first step.

  28. Robert

    I work for one of the main coaching education offices in Finland. I’m basically the technical director partly responsible for producing almost all the Hockey coaching education material here. I am not aware of the development practices in Canada, but I can speak about what we are doing here in Finland.

    All the big clubs have goalie coaches. Ice practices about once per week for goalies only is common, even for young kids (10yrs +). Goalie coaches have their own goalie-specific coaching development education developed and run by elite goalie coaches.

    Goaltending is seen and treated like a specialization even at the young ages and the training environment reflects that.

    • MN Goalie Dad

      Thank you for your insight. How are goalies handled during team practices? Is there a goalie coach / assistant coach on the ice that works with goalies during team practices or are they left on their own to be backstops?

      • Robert

        In my practices (midget minor level) I have had the goalie coach there at least once per week. He has the goalies for about half of our practice. This is in addition to my goalies’ own practice ice once a week with all the other goalies from three age groups with the same coaches and U20 or U18 shooters.

        2x per week specialized goalie training in addition to our 4x week team practices.

        • Robert

          I forgot to mention that the goalie coach decided which of my two goalies was going to play which game, not me. I suppose I had veto power, but he had a plan for the goalies, not me. I did retain the right to pull a goalie in a game, which I think I did only twice in the season.

    • RC

      To the Tech Director from Finland
      Please keep talking , and try to get heard by the Canadian Hockey organisations. They need help.
      There is no lack of elite goalie instruction available but at the club level, team level and overseeing organisational level Goalie instruction is missing.

      • Robert

        Just a quick follow up before bed, I’ll come back tomorrow.

        Here’s a video I took today (nothing special, I was just testing my new iPad).

        As you can hear, one of the coaches is having a little trouble hitting the net. 😀

        This is a regular (not a goalie-specific) hockey camp at our sports institute. The goalies have their own ice time during the camp. This is not unusual at camps nor in clubs during the season. These kids are about 9-11yrs. You can see (a little bit) that they are working on crease movement with a shot at the end.

        I’ve also been videotaping the junior national team olympic development camp practices just this week. Goalies have their own training sessions twice a day for four days. On the ice are an assortment of goalie coaches, most of them professional goalie coaches who are employed by pro teams or junior clubs. The guy who develops the federation’s goalie coaching material (also a professionally active goalie coach) is on the ice for every practice. We’re videotaping the practices for the goalie coaching education.

        Change the goalies in the video for the junior national team goalies, and the setup of the training environment is identical.

  29. Sensei

    By the time they reach Junior age it is mostly fine-tuning, so banning goalie imports in the CHL would not have any impact on the development of Canadian goalies. Fundamental development starts from Novice to Peewee where you can train a young child’s body (and mind) more easily for skating, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, muscle memory, etc. without starting bad habits. In Bantam and Midget it is mostly refining skills and game strategy. There seems to be a lack of serious, consistent and accessible high level training for young goalies (novice-peewee). Or if it is available or possible, perhaps there is an unwillingness by leagues/associations to spend the money or, even if free, the reluctance to make change. This is where a national goalie curriculum, goalie coaching certification, and regular free/subsidized goalie coaching would help. If Canada wants high level goalies, Canada has to mandate a high level program early on, otherwise, status quo for Canada while other nations get even better.

  30. Ontario Goalie Dad

    The problem is definitely with the coaching of our young tenders. My son has had an actual Goalie Coach on 2 teams, and we in addition pay for coaching. Luckily he has some natural ability and plays at the AAA level as a first year midget. He is no stranger to the politics in hockey, as a 2nd year atom he was told he was the better of 3 tenders but the other 2 were 2nd year peewee and their would be problems if he was chosen, this was right from the coaches mouth. He has been to u-16 and u-17. The problems with picking team Canada start right there at those camps with coaches picking their own players, not all mind you but there were players at the Ohl cup and Gold Cup that should not have been there. If Canada wants to be competitive at the international levels look in their own backyards at the players that are selected from their individual hockey associations to represent them in the first selections for team Ontario. Training availability at a young age is a problem but it is not to take all the blame Politics has a lot to do with it also.

  31. Matt in Montreal

    If, as Don Cherry says, that there is a culture of bringing in ‘older’ Euro goalies from overseas and sitting younger Canadians, then yes – I believe *that* practice should be banned.

    If however these kids grow up in the North American system alongside Canadians, than that’s another thing all together.

    Maybe the right questions should be asked before a stupid answer is given.

    • RC

      This is an excerpt from an article by Justin Goldman in InGoal
      “Now what links Raanta’s arrival to the CHL goalie ban is the way in which goalies are developed at a younger age.
      In Finland, many goalies not only train within the same club or program for a number of years, but they also work with high-level goalie coaches, sometimes even the same one that works for the pro and elite-level teams. Because of this, Finnish goalies are developed within a systematic and structured long-term model that is consistent, comprehensive, controlled, and communal (sharing drills and literature, refined techniques, etc).

      So these young goalies learn a curriculum and then work within that same curriculum until they are ready to play at the professional level. Such is the case with Raanta, who is a product of Lukko’s junior program. He entered the fray way back in 2003, when he first started to compete on their U-16 team in the Jr. C SM-sarja league. He would continue to develop in Lukko for another eight years, until he posted a 2.37 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 20 regular season games for their SM-liiga team.

      In North America, grassroots “in-house” programs are not necessarily set up that way.

      Volunteer goalie coaches have the passion and dedication to teach, but lack experience or a true understanding of what to teach, how to teach it, and when to teach it. They have very few guidelines to work with, very few resources to aid their practice time, and simply not enough eyes to see every goalie they work with. The differences in development go on and on and on, but if you do some online research, you’ll see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

      Enough said!

      • Robert

        RC is correct, this is how it works here in Finland.

  32. icedaddy007

    being a former ( I will call myself that now even if it was just beer league) goalie i do understand the issues with developing goalies. The CHL was designed as a league to allow North American players to develop their skills. somewhere in their now it has turned into a minor pro league to bring over European players to push for the all mighty $$$. the loss is that good Canadian and US born players are losing a place to develop properly, especially if a 19 yr old European goalie come over bumping 3 N American kids and takes their place. yes, there is other hockey in North America, the CJAHL has a league in every province and parts of the US, and their is the USHL, which I have learned alot about since a kid that played Junior A here went to Fargo to play there, and is now playing NCAA with UND.
    But the final factor is developing our own goalies, and this needs to go back to the local Minor Hockey association. Hockey Canada has to help out these association and help get them the training they need. here goes the next issue, you need to have coaches that want to learn to help and take the seminars to help learn. we had a few in my local association offered through Hockey Manitoba. sad thing is we had 5 coaches for one seminar, and 6 for the second. the onus then falls back onto the coaches. I do understand that Hockey Canada does offer training programs to all the different hockey bodies across Canada, and us as coaches have to step forward and learn, study and develop these skills and drills for our own players

  33. Jeffery Allen

    This is the RIGHT move. There are limits to the number of imports, correct? And with 19 or so skaters per team, the ratio is small. When you look at 2 goalies per team, that ratio is HUGE! As a parent of an elite AA-AAA goalie this is an excellent idea. There is constant moaning about the lack of top “Canadian” goalies. Well with limited places to play in “Canada”, we should give our own a shot first. Otherwise, don’t go crying that there aren’t any good Canadian goalies. Canadian Hockey League, right? the majority are Canadian, right? Well then lets keep the 2 spots per team, a majority of Canadians. There still needs to be more attention given to goalie development. From community to higher levels. Hockey Canada should be knocking on the doors of kids playing at high levels, offering them instruction so that they can represent them in the future.

  34. Token


  35. Ian Wotherspoon

    I began coaching as an assistant in 1964 with the Cradle League here in Ottawa. By 1966 I was a coach with the Nepean Hockey Association and realizing that there wasn’t anyone involved in coaching goalies nor was there any courses that a coach could take to learn what to and what not to teach, there just wasn’t anyone who could help you in this area. At this point I decided that the goalies needed to have someone to work with them the same as the forwards & defence and so I bought a couple of books to see what was involved.

    In 1972 I ran the very first Goaltending Camp under the NHA (Nepean Hockey Association) Name which was a fantastic success. I ran this camp every September until the early eighties and by then I had a great team of instructors who took over after I left Nepean. I never stopped coaching goalies until I retired from coaching in 2009 just over 40 years. The main reason I didn’t stop before that date was because there still wasn’t anyone coming out to coach the goalies, I was a very rare commodity. There were seasons that I would start off with one team but by Christmas I found myself working with several teams.

    That is still one of the main problems, and another is that it takes a special person to teach goalies how to stop a puck especially in today’s hockey with it constanly changing. I was a “Stand-up goalie” but because of all the changes over the years I would take a guess that I’ve spent over 1,000 hours on the Internet looking for articles as well as DVDs so I could learn how to teach all the new skills/saves/moves, etc.. Then I had to teach myself or have someone help me unti l understood it and only then could teach it. I feel that over the years I became an excellent goalie coach and I did have several goalies who either made it into JR-A, OHL and with some they made it all the way to the NHL. That wasn’t just because of me but I feel that I was a part of their success.

    There has to be an interest shown with coaches so they can learn to teach goalies. People who are willing to spend the time that is needed. One of the things I did was to make sure that the goalies I was coaching all had a copy of the DVDs I was using so they could refer to them when they were away from the rink. I also taught the mental aspect of being a goalie which is very important.

    Now that I’m in my seventies I have to many physical problems going on in my body as well as cancer otherwise you might find me still doing what I so loved to do.

    One last thing that I have to say is that there are too many goalie Schools / Camps and not enough goalie coaches during the season. A goalie needs to be shown where he or she is making a mistake before they can correct it. You have to be able to discuss it with them and then show them what you feel is the best way to stop the puck or possibly several different saves they could use.

    It’s a very hard position to coach properely and goalie coaches are needed, so, why don’t you take a course and learn how to coach goalies.

    The Spoonman (This was a name I used on several goalie sites I have been a part of since 2008)