Being a goaltender means lots of responsibility, some pressure, and the need for a "tough skin." Goalies often receive a lot of undo blame for goals. As a result, goalies and their parents often spend too much time displacing the blame onto "the defense" or "the forward that made a bad play." Don't, because that makes the goalie and their parents just as guilty. Parents, in an effort to "protect" their goaltender, often act like overprotective "stage parents." No team ever won when the players and parents spend time pointing fingers. That creates a negative atmosphere. Good coaches do not blame, but rather teach teamwork and responsibility. Goalies, you must accept your responsibility and approach the game with the proper attitude. Your responsibility is simple: regardless of the circumstances, stop the puck and make a difference. No excuses and no blaming others. Making a difference means "bailing out your team" when a bad play is made, playing better than the opposing goaltender, making the big save when called upon, and giving your team a chance to win. No goalie gets a shutout every game. While the best goalies would rather be "hit by a bus" than give up a goal, they also can accept the responsibility of a goal (regardless of who's fault it is), put it behind them, and concentrate on the next shot. They do not yell at their teammates, stare them down or throw their arms up in disgust. Negative emotion is bad. It splits teams apart.

All players (and parents) have to be coached to play together, to work together, to care about each other so much that each will sacrifice and give everything for team. When that happens it is a great feeling, and the players rise to new heights . . . as a team. This was our the expansion Nashville Predators did so well in the first year. A defenseman makes a bad pass, but the goalie makes a great save. A player takes a foolish penalty and the penalty killing unit along with the goalie, protect that one goal lead! The goalie is out of position and the defenseman dives to block a shot. The puck goes to the point and a forward sacrifices his body by dropping to block a "Rob Blake-like" blast. Everybody is working toward one goal . . . winning. It does not matter who gets the credit, in fact, more praise is handed out when you have success collectively. But, if the goalie is not a team player . . . if the goalie and his parents blame others, yell at others, make excuses, a "total team" can never be achieved. The defense or forwards may not sacrifice to block shots. Teammates may not come to the goalies aid when problems arise. Simply, they won't play with their heart for the goalie. Then, the goalie can never make the real difference, because he does not have his "heart" into the team.

What about when the goalie plays well, and the team loses? Should the goalie be totally happy . . . totally satisfied? No! Should the goalie blame his teammates? No! Should the goalie strive to "make more of a difference?" Yes! It's the goalie's job to bail his team out when they do not play well, and the team's job to bail out the goalie when he is not sharp. That shows "heart" and responsibility . . . A TRUE TEAM CONCEPT. No "pointing the finger." Goalies must be mentally tough, very secure, extremely competitive with "big shoulders" and have the burning desire to make a difference. And parents, be supportive and stress the importance of not blaming others. Accept the challenge of "making the difference." This, too, is a life lesson…not only hockey!!
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