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Goalies: Love Themselves, Hate Their Parents



What did Daddy do, goalies?  Come on, sit down.  Let’s talk about your issues.

Ms. Conduct, the other huge percentage of goalie-obsessed fans: I know I’m gonna hear from you on this one.




Why.  Oh why.  Does everybody love goalies?

First, a disclaimer:  I don’t not love goalies (double negatives make sense, right?).

Goalies are, um… great.  There’s at least a couple I like.

But people frigging love goalies.

They love goalies, despite the fact that tenders frequently admit to being tormented souls - odd people who are openly content with being about as stable as Kathy Bates in “Misery”.

Is it the pretty gear, guys?  The fact that the position is utterly devoid of skating?  The glory of the glove save?

Haven’t you whack-jobs ever scored a goal?  Don’t you have any idea how good that feels??  What did your parents do to you?

It’s mind boggling that anyone plays this position.  What the allure?

Even the big boys, every chance they get to have an f-around practice (much more common in college, where players have practices after the season), the guys will take turns chuckin’ the gear on.

You're probably diving cause you were out of position, bub.

You're probably diving cause you were out of position, bub.

There’s no “Wingers Magazine”, but there should be, for one simple reason:

We’re the smart ones.

Are you non-goalies out there aware of how hard a frozen hockey puck is?  And I can shoot one 80 miles an hour.  Which end of that do you wanna be on?

As a kid, picking a position, we all made what should have been an easy decision.  By all logic, every team should have had 20 kids trying to be wingers and two coaches assigning the derelicts to center, defense, and goaltender. 

The decision was on par in difficulty with “would like a dead-leg, or a pack of fuzzy peaches?”

Really look at it.  Break it down at the higher levels (If you got stuck playing “D” because you got extra ice time playing it as a kid, I bet you openly use the word “stuck”):

 Goalie:  Spend half the game alone.  No chance to be the hero of the moment, only consistency brings accolades.  50% odds of being the goat.

Defenseman:  A tenth of the chance of being the game hero.  Fire the puck off the glass (the only true sports equivalent of “hitting the broad side of a barn”).  Occasionally get “postered” with a puck through your feet.  Do all things boring and safe.

Center: Work your GD bag off.  Faceoffs matter to coaches (more work).  Play below the hash marks in your own zone, acting as the third defenseman (more work).  Only player that skates on all 200 feet of the ice (annnd more work).

Winger: You’re a genius.  Opportunities for goals and glory.  Next to zero defensive responsibility.  Rest up in D zone for the next rush.  All things fun.

I love when centers or goalies bitch to me throughout the year about the ease of my defensive responsibilities as a winger, like I made them make the poor choice of position.

In the end, tenders, I’m halfway playin’ with ya.  No game is complete without at least two your cranially damaged counterparts.  But the whole thing really does boggle my thinking machine.

Because still, every way you slice it, fans frigging love the goalie.

In the autograph line:

“Are you the goalie?”

“Are you the goalie?”

“…No kid, I’m the guy who makes good decisions.  Next!”


34 Responses to “Goalies: Love Themselves, Hate Their Parents”
  1. Marc says:

    I knew there was a reason why I loved the wing. I just couldn’t articulate it as well, and being “stuck” on D…yup, played that role too. Coach: “Hey you’re way bigger than those other guys, go scare them when they come into the zone” My wife says you’re not passive aggressive enough to be a goalie, those kids goalie t shirts are apparently 100% accurate “My goal is to deny yours” – every save you can practically hear her laughing “hahahah I stopped you.”

    Then again, even you have to admit, Stalock is a friggin rockstar in every sense of the word.

  2. possum says:

    Soooo……are you the goalie or not? LOL

    Seriously, I’ve had the chance to get my foot in the door behind the mic with a part-time radio gig for the Checkers this year. While I’ve watched a shit-ton of hockey, I didn’t grow up playing it. Blogs like this are appreciated because they give me insight into your head(s) as players. Hopefully I can use that knowledge to make a career out of talking about a sport I love. Thanks JB.

  3. Far North says:

    I don’t love goalies; I love defensemen.

    I started watching and playing hockey as an adult, and was instantly drawn to that position. The beautiful backwards skating! That incredible toughness — guys throwing themselves in front of a puck without benefit of goalie gear! The way D-men move in unison to stop oncoming opponents!

    Goal-scorers will always get applause. And the goalie is frequently the star of the game. But a defenseman gets his/her satisfaction by making plays that many fans won’t even notice. There’s something very pure about that.

  4. Jeff K says:

    My best friend was a goalie growing up and my other best friend played D. (the brick s***house kind of D)

    Anyway…. “If you can’t play hockey they put you on defense and the guys that really suck at that go in net.”

    Might not want to say that around Denis Potvin and Billy Smith tho..

  5. jtbourne says:

    Yesssss, let’s start a “position” war! Drag each other through the mud. Trash each other! Let those dumb D men know who’s boss! Call those lazy forwards slugs! Goalies can barely even skate!

  6. James says:

    Why play goal?

    Simple: More ice time and free “skate & shoots”!

    And because goalie mask paint jobs are PIMP.

  7. jtbourne says:

    Maybe then, we should suggest to Bettman that all players can paint there helmets with whatever they see fit, as long as it’s team colours. Wouldn’t that be a hit?

  8. ms.conduct says:

    Haha! Thanks Justin. Great stuff. I’ll have to take this one over to my place and hash it out. ;)

  9. Scotty K says:

    Winger who has 0 defensive responsibility? Man as a goalie I hate you guys, either you are cherry picking or ass picking out side the blue line or in your own end not covering the point but screening the shot. I play goal, my Dad played goal, my son plays goal, hell my grandmother in Champion Alberta played goal when she was a kid because none of the other kids wanted to. You know why I love it, because when guys like you come rolling in and try to burn me and I flash the leather, butterfly slide across or make some sick save with the paddle of my stick I can see the disappointment in your face and I like it. I find joy in the failure of others, it’s like being the drummer in a band, yeah the lead singer is getting some but chicks dig the drummer (goalie), the winger is sort of like a bassist… Oh and Bourne if you come out with us you are going to be like the fat chick on prom night, not matter what you try you ain’t getting any.

    Thanks to Ms Conduct for forwarding me the post, loved it!

  10. ms.conduct says:

    This is who I’m learning goal from. The one who tells me to stop being so damn cocky. See why I can’t effin’ figure out which way is up?? ;) Love ya, Scotty.

  11. jtbourne says:

    Haha, I seriously love the enthusiasm.

    I was tempted to respond to this with “….nnnnno.”, or some sort of simple “let’s be serious, there’s not a goaltender alive who sees a breakaway coming and hopes it’s me” cocky response, but I just freaking loved the rock band analogy.

    Like the way the Beatles couldn’t have been the Beatles without Rin….um… the Rolling stones couldn’t have made it without… wait…. Actually, I am starting to see how goalies are like drummers.

  12. Sally says:

    Duh! Cause the goalie masks keep their faces pretty (see: Lundqvist, Henrik).

  13. jtbourne says:

    and Luongo, Roberto.

  14. Mitch says:

    Hmmmmm…… I’d like to officially say that you hit the nail on the head. I was in it for the glove saves and minimal skating. I’ve also learned in later years that my hero Mike Vernon is a party animal. My new goal is to drink with him.

  15. rm says:

    In the world of pick-up hockey, being a goalie does have its advantages in that they usually do not pay for ice time (how much is it to rent an hour of ice in the desert?). Skaters would rather pay the goalies share for the ice rental to be able to shoot at a human rather than the dreaded shooter tutor. As a former pick-up hockey organizer, I am very much indebted to several people who have filled in as a goalie at the last minute and saved us from hitting posts or turning the net over.

    Goalies are indeed a strange breed (my brother was a soccer goalie), but hey, every team needs one and they do make the locker room interesting with their many quirks. Personally, I liked playing defense. Given that I would have a hard time putting the puck in the ocean if I was standing on an island and had two speeds, slow and stop, I was not cut out to be a forward. However, I am “responsible”, thus D was a natural fit :) .

    Great articles on USA Today and your other outlets. As for Cardinal Football, at least Larry Fitzgerald is worth the price of the ticket and a few beers.

  16. Justin says:


    I was born and raised in the middle of Nowhere, Texas (it’s a real city, look it up). I did not know what hockey was until I was 12 and the Stars had just re-located from Minnesota. If it were not for Andy Moog, Darcy Wakaluk and CHRIS OSGOOD I would most definitely still be roping cattle, wearing boots way too big for me and probably stuck in a dirty ol’ cowboy(s) hat.


    My dad has never ice skated in his life. Nobody in my family ever has. I have no lineage, no history, nothing. Just a passion to stop pucks and an enthusiasm for the position.

    From someone who grew up playing basketball and following football, I couldn’t think of anything better than trying to play football on ice. That and I guess I just remember falling in love with a certain feeling:

    It was watching the opposition, the enemy, skate their heart out by putting so much effort into possessing the puck, making all those crazy moves and getting a scoring chance, only to have the GOALIE make one simple and instantaneous flick of the wrist to get a glove on that puck heading top left corner. Was their effort admirable? Absolutely. Was it still completley futile? Definitely. But you will still hear me belt out a, “Dude, NICE shottttt” or “Holy shit what a move!!!!” in every single game and scrimmage I play.

    Personally, I actually crack up when I see someone two times bigger than me do two times the amount of work to get ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. I can sit back and watch the play develop, barely make any movements, exert very little energy and totally deny a forward’s sole purpose of being on the ice. Like flicking off a light switch.

    The glory of the glove save. Goalies could write a book on it, because we all live for it.

    From one Justin to another, you may not love us goalies, but you, my gracious enemy, are okay in our book!


  17. jtbourne says:

    And great comment.

    I can feel you on that. There’s definitely something admirable about putting in less to get out more. And in truth, I’ve loved almost every goalie I’ve ever played with (almost was used intentionally).

    Even players love watching the glove save (on someone else). I guess my satisfaction is almost on the same level, but from watching a goalie desperately trying to get any feeble body part in front of the puck, and being completely and utterly fooled. Scoring on a completely empty net (a net that wasn’t empty a moment earlier), is my glove save.

  18. kgopher says:

    I just love watching the goalie. Most of them all have their own personal styles and they are just fun to watch for me. Never played and got into watching as an adult so don’t know which position I would rather play, but I really love watching goalies. Just seeing them deny some good scoring chances is fantastic. How they keep track of where the puck is sometimes is amazing. It a difficult position to play one would think so makes it even more interesting. Plus the masks and gear are cooler.

  19. JD says:

    Hey JB,

    Don’t forget at practices when the F’s and D’s split and the d-men go do those “cut the pie” footwork/bagger drills while the forwards work on one-tees from the slot and walkouts from the corner. Oh, and one-on-ones straight down out of the corner when they have to start backwards from a stop, play to the whistle, and go twice as much as the F’s. Good times.

  20. Far North says:

    Oh, you want a “position war”? How about this: Maybe goalies are the smartest guys on the ice.

    First, there’s that whole “playing the angles” thing. On some level, goalies must have good minds for math.

    Secondly, among players, goalies seem to write a disproportionate share of hockey books. That could mean that they’re more intellectual than many of their teammates, more introspective, or both.

    Truthfully, the rec league goalies I’ve known haven’t seemed any smarter than other players. But what about at the elite levels?

    (Ready for vigorous debate.)

  21. jtbourne says:

    The case against goalies has been made, shut and sentenced over the history of hockey. Though the debate is closed, JD makes a great point. During the D/Forwards split at practice, our drills generally involve fun, and not many reps, while the D work on all things conditioning. It’s sweet.

  22. ms.conduct says:

    Far North, I do think goalies in general are smarter. I don’t include myself in that.

    I made my whole case FOR goalies at my blog, but if you clicked my name in my prior comments, you’d never know because I got my friggin’ URL wrong. Anyway:

  23. WWPKD says:

    All the goalies ive ever came across in youth, high school, and college hockey fall into the same category, head cases. Each in their own way, goalkeepers walk a few feet off the beaten path. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that F/D-men play a team sport, while goaltending is more like an individual sport. Like A LOT of top tier tennis or pro golfers, hockey goalies contribute countless dollars to the exponentially growing field of sports psychology. Personally, I LOVE taunting and mocking my goalies when they get torched in practice. I don’t know why but I just relish those moments when players rattle the cage which in turn rattles the goalies cage. To me, causing a goalie to break his stick on the crossbar in practice is held in the same regard as scroing an OT game winner or successfully wheelin the hottest girl in the club. It must be tough to play a postion where if you don’t succeed AT LEAST 90% of the time you are conisdered about as usefull as a broken folding chair, but dont let one of them hear you say that.

    I unfortunately got “stuck” playing D when I was little because I was a decent size, could skate backwards, and had hands that were once compared to that of a carpal tunnel patient. No matter how i got here, I’m here on the blue line where I belong so this is the side I’ll be sticking to in the position war. —Dumb, flashy, glory-thirsty forwards wonder the nuetral zone aimlessly until the puck hits their tape. At that exact moment, miraculously thier feet start moving faster than ever before and you see a little fire in their eyes. This fire of course is swiftly extinquished when their attempted dangle is foiled and/or clapper hits the glass and eventually ends up in an opposite way odd man rush, which conveniently (for them) is the international signal to head to the bench for a linechange.
    Defensemen are the masterminds behind the chess game that is hockey, which makes forwards….dare i say it….. pawns?
    OUTSTANDING BLOG jtbourne!

  24. jtbourne says:

    Our team held enough hands of goaltenders to get them through college that I can honestly say I’ve seen no evidence of goaltenders being “smarter”. Unfortunately, I have seen the opposite Ohhhh, have I seen the opposite.

  25. ms.conduct says:

    Hmm. Funnier then? Maybe I’ve just been lucky in my exposure to goalies…

  26. jtbourne says:

    I will easily, easily give you that they’re funnier. Damn near every one seems to be at the at the center of all things hilarious.

  27. minnesotagirl71 says:

    I’ll agree that goalies are odd ducks – as are pitchers and kickers. They strive for a different kind of glory – but you’ve got to admire their nerve!

    But come on! Defense is boring?? Brent Burns is the reason why I first got interested in hockey! I love watching him play! He knows where to position himself to keep the puck in the zone, throws that giant body in front of pucks, puts himself between his goalie and the other teams players when they rush the net. In a close game I think the blocked shot can be just as exciting (maybe even more so) as a goal. Maybe it also has something to do with huge respect for a guy who can skate backwards…brings back memories of childhood roller skating…snowball….

  28. Officer Koharski says:

    Goalie’s just have that charm, man. The fans who sit on their asses identify the most with the Goalie.

    I always chose D because I can’t skate for shit, but I can definitley knock your ass over. A friend of mine always goes for C because he has a defensive brain, it’s just how he sees the game. I think most people have an innate position anyway, you just have to try a few out first to see what suits you best. And like you said, if your innate position is Goalie you’re probably fat or a masochist.

  29. Officer Koharski says:

    Also! I think a lot of guys choose D because they don’t like to be on the spot, the guy holding the puck who might let it roll off the stick or miss an open net, ie: me. I really like playing a stay at home style, obviously doing what I have to do keep the play moving but I get a nice sense of satisfaction from holding down the fort. I hang out farther back, watch how everything pans out, watch my guy, and set him up and close him off before he even knew I considered him.

    I’m the kind of guy who avoids the spotlight in every available opportunity. I only play with friends and beer leagues but still, I would rather be the dependable nobody than the guy with all the expectations on his shoulders.

  30. pat says:

    Someone has issuessssss!!!!!! LOL

  31. eyebleaf says:

    Only terrorists hate goalies.

  32. Deirdre says:

    Introducing a friend to hockey was accomplished with the “you like football, you like quarterbacks – well goalies are a lot like quarterbacks” logic. It totally worked too :-)

    Goalies can watch the play develop, let the skaters know who’s coming up where, and in the end are responsible for the scoring (now in hockey it’s stopping the other team for scoring as opposed to getting a score – but the level of responsibility is the same)

    and yeah, Goalies are considered absolute shite if they don’t save more than 85% of what comes at them. Could you imagine if forwards were held to scoring on 85% of their shots?!?

  33. jtbourne says:

    This comment… I don’t even know what to do with it.
    :) Hah… okay:

    a) I’m glad you sold your friend on hockey, but quarterbacks and goalies have about as much in common as Rush Limbaugh and Jon Stewart.
    b) No, I couldn’t imagine if forwards were held to scoring on 85% of their shots. For a number of reasons.

    That is all.

  34. Griff says:

    I run a hockey shop so I see pretty much every youth player in town on a regular basis. For little kids it’s absolutely the pads and the cool helmets plus the fact that the goalie gets to be the center of attention for a huge chunk of the game. Combine that with the fact that as little kids most players rarely score goals and you can see why being a goalie might be appealing.

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