James Mahoney, Razor’s Edge Communications

Ken Dryden, Hall of Fame goalkeeper for the Montreal Canadiens, recently wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal about Carey Price, the current Canadiens goalkeeper.

In describing how good Price is and his style of keeping, Dryden wrote:

“Price makes every save look easy. On a shot to the top corner, even if a goalie’s glove in nearly in position, almost every goalie almost every time, at the puck’s impact, windmills his glove up and around to make sure that what is routine looks spectacular. Price barely moves. I’m not diving and flailing, he says to his opponents, You think that was a great save? It wasn’t. Not even close. I have so much more in me, you might as well give up.

I was neither Carey Price nor Ken Dryden when I was a soccer goalkeeper. My personal record of letting in 16 in one game attests to that. But I am a goalkeeper. I devour any material that deals with goalkeeping in any sport. I know what the author is talking about in a way non-goalkeepers can’t. As I suspect every other goalkeeper in the world does, I see aspects and events of my not-so-brilliant career and performance reflected in such commentary.

Here’s a case in point related directly to Dryden’s passage. Partway through my rookie season, my coach commented on my style. I made good stops, he said, but I needed to make some of them look more spectacular or harder than they were. On low shots, for example, I would simply drop or glide down for the stop. “Make a nice dive instead,” he counseled. “Shape it up. Put on a bit of show.” The idea was that flashy saves inspired the team and the fans.

So, the very next game, the opportunity came. A very routine, rolling shot came in. I knew no one was near enough to capitalize on it, so it was a safe play. Ordinarily, I’d simply take a step or two to the left and collect the ball. Instead, I executed a beautiful little arching dive and hit the exact spot on the ground that the ball had just rolled through. Score one for the opposition.

We lost that game, 2-1, and it was the last time I intentionally “shaped it up.”

Bottom line? Showboating is entertaining (when it works), but doing the job well is the real objective.