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Interview with Steve McKichan


Photo Courtesy of Future Pro Goalie School Website

Over the summer I managed to get in contact with former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach Steve McKichan.  He's a frequent commenter and writer for one of the goalie message boards I often waste valuable work time browsing through.  He runs the Future Pro Goalie School out of his home near Toronto and has traveled all over the US and Canada giving camps and lessons.  He was scheduled to actually give a camp in my neck of the woods about a month ago, and I had signed up and everything, but due to health concerns, he had to cancel at the last minute.  I look forward to meeting him in person and getting some help for my woeful 'game'.

To make a long story longer, after the Avs landed Andrew Raycroft for the backup goaltender position during free agency, I contacted Steve about doing a quick interview about his former 'student.' He was gracious enough to answer my bumbling questions.  Unfortunately, the same health concerns that I mentioned above have drastically cut back on his writing time, so I haven't been able to chase him down for any follow-up questions, which is why this post didn't appear at the beginning of the season as originally planned.  Still, I thought some of you  (i.e. Savage) would be interested in what parts of the interview I DO have.  Questions are after the jump, with Steve's responses in italics. Enjoy!

  • First question, of course, is have you ever been in the presence of Patrick Roy? Yes

Now that we've gotten your only required credential out of the way, on to the real questions:

  • What was your reaction when you heard Raycroft had signed with Colorado? I think it will be good for him to get a fresh start in a non-traditional hockey market.
  • Are you familiar with Jeff Hackett, the goaltending coach with the Colorado Avalanche? If so, any thoughts on the work he did with his former teammate Jose Theodore over the last couple of seasons? Will he be able to work well with another former teammate of his in Raycroft? Jeff is a friend of mine and he will be good for Andrew.
  • Toronto fans stumbled over to our corner of the Internet after the signing and opined that Raycroft didn’t have a "win at all costs" mentality. Was that a fair assessment of what you saw on the ice? He always gave me full effort and wanted to win badly. His demeanor on the outside belies his passion inside.
  • Others have stated that opposing teams had "figured him out" and were exploiting some tendencies, notably his glove side. Where there any aspects of his game that suffered or were exposed during his time in Toronto? All goalies have their weaknesses exploited with our state-of-the-art video and pro scouts.
  • Raycroft came into Toronto as the bonified #1, but was replaced after the 2006-2007 season by Vesa Toskola. How did Raycroft handle the transition to a backup role? Is the backup role something he is comfortable with or can Avalanche fans expect Raycroft to challenge for the starting job? All pro goalies strive to be the go-to guy or starter and as with all goalies it is a hard position to be in when you are backing up.
  • What kind of attitude and work ethic will Raycroft bring to the Colorado locker room? The guys will love him and play hard for him.
  • What are your thoughts on the Budaj/Raycroft tandem heading into this season? I like it. They both have been coached by another friend of mine John Elkin.
  • Describe Raycroft’s "game" (blocking/butterfly/hybrid/puckhandling) for those of use who haven’t seen him play. He is a positional cognitive goalie who relies on great reads and intelligent anticipation. On the goaltending style continuum he would be hybrid / butterfly style.
  • How do you spell his nickname? Rayzor? Razor? Razr is how I spell it.

Now some general goaltending questions while I have your attention:

  • True or False: Reducing/changing goaltending equipment (like the changes after the lockout and those upcoming) will result in an increase in scoring? No permanent change in goal-scoring.
  • Which young NHL (27 years or younger) goalie do you see having a long and successful career ahead of him? [Carey] Price, [Tukka] Rask
  • Is there one single attribute that differentiates NHL-caliber goaltenders from those who seem to peak at a minor-league level? [G]reat games 9-out -of-ten instead of 8-out-of-ten.
  • As a goaltending coach, do you prefer head coaches to favor a clear #1 goalie and clear backup or a tandem (1/1A) system? What are some of the pluses/minuses of each system? I have no preference and as a pro there should be no pros or cons to each.
  • What’s the biggest problem you see among NHL goaltenders in regards to technique or tendencies? Are there things you see that you would never teach to your students? They relax in a concentration mode where they appear not set but they are set mentally.
  • And lastly, when are you going to do an adult camp close enough to Oklahoma City so that you can see the hilarity that is my "game"?  Rhymes with lever. [Note: Like I said, he IS going to be close enough for me to attend a camp, hopefully sometime in the near future.]

Thanks again for taking the time to do this. You owe me $5,000......

I'll let the blog editor-in-chief handle all billing...