Every year we have an NHL All-Star Game, we invite the best goalies in the league, and then light them up in embarrassment.
It sounds like fun, right?
Let’s be honest. This event isn’t for goalies, it’s for skilled players, and I expect the new 3-on-3 format to be no different. My prediction is that it will be 10 minutes of hockey, then a breakaway festival.
Goalies will definitely be nervous this weekend as no one likes to get lit up and embarrassed in front of 20,000 people, not to mention a global television audience. It’s not enjoyable. Trust me, if anyone knows what that feels like, it’s me.
But the biggest concern goalies will be dealing with this weekend is the risk of injury. If I’m the head coach of one of these guys, I’m heading to Sunday mass and praying that my goalie doesn’t get hurt.
We all assume the risk that an injury could occur at any time, but in the all-star game it's a little different. Having the best players in the game, with the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, and Steven Stamkos, sending you into splitsville with one of their patented head fakes, is not the same as a fourth-line player coming down the wing and burying one into your chest.
These guys know how to make a goalie look silly and will turn you into a pretzel while doing it.
A goalie’s mindset going in to this game will be simply not to get scored upon more than the other guys. Confidence-wise these guys are professionals, so it won’t phase them when they go back to their respective teams. They know it’s an all-star game, and it’s not a game designed for them to shine. Their competition actually lies inside their head by measuring themselves against their peers, then at the end of the game being able to say to themselves:
“Well, I wasn’t as bad as so and so. He let in more goals than me.”
The name of the all-star game for a goalie is survival. Work your butt off and get out of there with as little damage done to your ego as possible. New York Rangers goaltender Mike Richter was the game's MVP in 1994, stopping 19 of 21 shots including three breakaways by the legendary Pavel Bure.
This was an amazing feat.
As a skater, being chosen to play in the all-star game is quite an honour. However, being chosen to play in it as a goalie is like being in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, with the exception being there no medals for bravery awaiting you.
Gaolies are in the all-star game to serve as a target while the best players in the world show off their skills. We all wonder why you have to be “a little off centre” to be a goalie.
I am here to tell you that it’s because despite all that I just said, each goalie in Nashville this weekend will be honoured to be there and they will love every minute of it.
I know I would.