Greetings everyone! I know I’ve been MIA for far too long, but life has a way of interfering at times. First, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy in these crazy times, that’s what’s most important right now. For those who don’t remember me my name’s Sean Moloney, I’m the Goaltending Coach at Chatham University’s NCAA DIII program, Duquesne University’s ACHA DI program, and author of the book ‘Modern Goaltending Modern Game’. I was a regular contributor to this site a few years ago and like I said, life interfered. I’m so honored and happy to be on here again and will do my best to once again be a regular contributor. Recently I was asked by an esteemed journalist friend of mine who wanted to interview me {I can’t imagine why either} about the popularity the position has gotten over the last few years, with more young players than ever before wanting to play the position. That got me thinking in depth about how amazing the evolution of the position has been. I think the way Goaltending has always been perceived, combined with the fascination with the equipment is a huge reason it has evolved unlike any other position in all of sports. First off, the Goaltender is the only player in team sports who is on the playing surface the entire duration of the game, so a desire for playing has something to do with it I’m sure, but there’s certainly a mystique and glory about the position that can be very attractive as well. When I was young centuries ago, I drew a parallel between Goaltenders and Knights in armour which really inspired me to play goal. The equipment, along with the mask and the art that goes with it, especially in today’s ‘swag’ driven society is a big draw for young players as well. It’s the only position in sports that allows one individual to single-handedly affect the outcome of a team sport which is pretty cool by itself.

Obviously the equipment is a huge contributor to the allure of the position, both in a positive and negative way. Look at all the hugely popular gear driven sites and pages on social media and it’s obvious how much of a life of it’s own the equipment has developed. It’s a negative at times because too much emphasis seems to be put on how good a Goaltender’s gear setup looks rather than how good a Goaltender he/she is. But the positives far outweigh that. It’s truly staggering to see how much research and development is going into the equipment now. Ten years ago it would have been unheard of for a company to put as many resources into a product such as Bauer did with their Odin series, or CCM with their new Axis series, both of which a lot of research and money was put into the development process. It’s truly a ‘Golden Age’ of Goaltending equipment, that is really unequaled in any other position in any other sport. The products available to today’s Goaltenders have completely eliminated the risk of injury, removing any fear in a young player’s, and their parents, mind which almost certainly creates a comfort level. It’s also at a point where the technology itself contributes to the Goaltender’s game with the equipment completely created for the way the position is played today. It’s progressed from simple protective equipment to assisting the player in occupation of space, filling the net, and relieving the Kinetic stress on the body. Even to a point where different density foams being tested to provide a bigger rebound off the pad to fit the modern Goaltender’s game, when previously the need was to deaden the puck off the pad. I don’t want to say it’s easier to play the position now than ever before, but the equipment has certainly played a role in the way the position has advanced and certainly is perceived today for sure.

It’s not just the equipment either. The advancement in the technology and science of the position is also unequaled in sports. It’s been a quantum leap as far as how fast it’s happened. Forget 30 years ago, look at where we are now in relation to 5 years ago, and it’s amazing. When I wrote my book 5 years ago, (Modern Goaltending Modern Game available online, all proceeds go to charity. ok, shameless plug over.) the VH was still a hot new technique, and now it’s almost obsolete. Even the reverse VH which has almost completely replaced it has different variations based upon game situation. Things like the Swedish Duckwalk have come and gone quickly, and as soon as tomorrow there’ll be something new coming along that we’ll all be trying out with all the tenders we work with. It’s truly remarkable. Look at a Quarterback in Football, the position’s as complex and advanced as it’s ever been but mostly it’s in the pre-snap reads and in-play recognitions he has to make, and the overall speed of the game but very little difference as far as the technique of the position is concerned. The Quarterback’s drop, set, and throwing kinetics are essentially the same as they always were. Goaltending in 2016 is completely unrecognizable from Goaltending as recently as 1980. Tom Brady’s throwing motion and fundamentals are almost the same as Johnny Unitas’, but Carey Price’s post-save rotation wasn’t even on the radar of Dominik Hasek let alone Glenn Hall. Simplifying it a little too much, saying it’s a body based game now as opposed to the limb based game it used to be would be correct but nowhere near detailed enough. The critical importance of movement in today’s game is also completely different from the position’s previous incarnations, with many schools and coaches today, myself included, utilizing movement only ice sessions without any shots which would have been completely unheard of years ago when the prevailing wisdom was the more shots the better. Now, we understand the actual save is only a small part of the Goaltender’s game and the importance of what happens before and after is every bit as important if not even more so. It’s been a fascinating transition to watch, from the stand-up game, to the introduction of the butterfly, from the paddle down craze, to the pure block game of the early to mid 2000’s, to the positional, scientific, athletic game of today is truly staggering. I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to continue to evolve too, so it’s going to be just as fascinating to see where it goes.



The position specific Coaching has had as big an impact on the position as the advances in equipment have. The position has changed so much and so quickly that we as Coaches have had to be both proactive and reactive at the same time in order to keep up with it. The drastic-ness (is that a word?) of the evolution has forced a lot of changes on the Coaching style as well. Private lessons have become so crucial in a Goaltender’s devlopment, regardless of age and/or skill level, and in turn have really become the bread and butter for most Goaltending Coaches. Almost all NHL Goaltenders do private sessions with coaches throughout the season and even more so in the off season and Summers. I think we’re starting to see, not an end of, but a significant shift in the traditional week long Goalie school format towards something more individualized. Goalie specific training facilities like the World Pro Center in Calgary are becoming more and more common for this reason, and that seems to be the way most Goaltenders are leaning as far as development goes. The lack of Goaltending knowledge in most Head Coaches is an old cliche by now but it’s no less true, and I think the lack of useful instruction/development time at most team practices is what facilitated the shift to private and more individualized instruction for most Goaltenders in today’s game. It’s weird how long it’s taken for the Goaltending Coach to become such an important role, Pitchers in Baseball and every position in Football have had position Coaches forever but it’s only been the last 10 years that the Goaltending Coach has become a key component in every Goaltender’s development process. Fortunately for me since I have very little redeeming social value outside of discussing the merits of the loose hip butterfly for an hour.

With the position having taken on a more technical/scientific approach in recent years, the old stereotype of the ‘Flaky’ Goaltender has diminished. From personal experience most of today’s Goaltenders are very intelligent, thoughtful people. Maybe more so than most of the other players on the team which is a complete reversal of the traditional cliche. As well as the given that Goaltenders are the best looking players in the locker room. I think it’s a thinking man’s position more than ever before and the Goaltenders today reflect that. Today’s Goaltender has to have a complete understanding of the technical aspect of the position and an ability to read the play going on around them so a sharp mind is as essential to the player just as much as their technical skill. With a sharp mind also comes mental toughness, and great focus which we all know are so critical to a good Goaltender Much as the old school thought process of the overweight kid that can’t skate playing net has proven obsolete so too has the notion of the flaky Goaltender. Sure, there’s still a few goofballs playing net, and Coaching Goaltenders, but that’s true in every walk of life. As the role of the Goaltending Coach has grown, it’s imperative to understand the importance of the Patrick Roy/Francois Allaire combination can NEVER be overstated in the history of the position. Obviously the ground breaking technical revolution they started became the foundation of the modern game, but just as important was the connection between Goaltender and Coach and what kind of results that connection can produce. I’ve had my best seasons as a Coach when my Goaltenders and I had a great connection on and off the ice. Roy set the groundwork for what Goaltenders would do on the ice moving forward, while Allaire laid the groundwork for how we as coaches could convey ideas and apply forward thinking philosophies to the Goaltenders on the Ice. A Goaltending Coach is more than just a coach. The combination Coach/Mentor/Role Model/Friend/Teacher dynamic is so important today when it comes to communicating with the Goaltenders we work with and Roy/Allaire really paved the way for the interaction between Goaltending Coach and Goaltender that all of us still try to achieve now.

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Sean Moloney
Currently the Goaltending Coach at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Coach Moloney has coached Goaltenders throughout the USA and his native Canada for over 20 years. He has established a reputation in the Hockey community as one of the most respected Goaltending Coaches in the business. He has served as the Goaltending Coach for many College and Junior programs, including Robert Morris University, Lebanon Valley College, where he coached Jill Moffatt who owns the NCAA record for saves in a season, the NAHL's Keystone Ice Miners and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. He is the founder/director of Building Blocks Goaltending school and development program. Since 2013 he’s been an instructor for World Pro Goaltending, one of the most prestigious Goaltender development programs in the World. He’s also the author of the book ‘Modern Goaltending Modern Game’ which was published in 2013 to widespread praise and acclaim. Coach Moloney can be contacted at seanmoloney35@hotmail.com

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