Thursday, April 16, 2009

Penalty Shot: François Allaire, Le Guru des Gardiens


Update to this post available here.

The Ducks have yet to renew the following multi-year contracts: Francois Beauchemin, Todd Marchant, BOTH Niedermayers and François Allaire. That's right. François Allaire. For those of you who don't know who that is, SHAME ON YOU!, but also, here's a brief biography of his hockey career:

In 1975, a 17-year-old Allaire travelled the world to research and develop a systematic approach to the Butterfly goaltending style. A decade later, François found his prized pupil, Patrick Roy, with whom he fine-tuned his theories and methods at the American League and NHL levels of the Montreal Canadiens' system. Their work together filled Allaire's four tomes on the art of goaltending and produced multiple Cups and Conn Smythes for Roy. Allaire's butterfly method emphasizes consistent positioning, skilled skating and the proper use and application of equipment.

After Roy was traded, Allaire did not renew his contract with the Habs. In 1996, then Ducks GM, and former Canadiens scout, Jack Ferreira extended an offer for Allaire to come to Anaheim. When the goaltending guru looked at backstop Guy Hebert, who had trained under goalie coach and former Allaire pupil, Brian Hayward, François commented that the Ducks' goaltender looked "tout croche" (a Quebecois-ism for 'all crooked'). He straightened him out, and Hebert was selected to the NHL All-Star game that year.

Allaire maintains an influential presence in the goaltending community through his globetrotting camps and seminars, his work with École de Hockey Co-Jean and the continued success of his pupils at the NHL level, especially the Ducks' netminders. End Bio.

Now, I think of this man as family at this point, but for anyone that doesn't plan to riot if his contract isn't renewed, I thought I'd give my three reasons why we need to keep François Allaire:

1) Undeniable Guru-ness. Through Roy, Allaire revolutionized goaltending. And in that new era, only one goaltender turns his back on the coach's methods altogether: Martin Brodeur. That's actually a good thing because it means the only person who doesn't need Allaire's help is the most talented goaltender of all-time. The way François thinks the position is uncanny and unmatched. The NHL still turns to his old ideas to increase scoring. At the end of the day, every Ducks goaltender since '96 has had the benefit of learning from the master.

2) Effective coach and productive coaching plan. The Ducks have had a number of goalie controversies since Allaire came on board. And to quote Marlo Stanfield, "That sound like one of them good problems." It is. And it's a direct result of Allaire's effectiveness as a coach and his belief that every team should develop two goaltenders at once. What many teams do with scouting, the Ducks have managed to do with effective coaching. Gerber and Bryzgalov are certainly great talents, but they lost much of their shine just one year removed from training under Allaire. He's shown the ability to develop talent quickly, and keep players productive in the long term.

3) Valuable scouting and recruiting tool. Jiggy doesn't deny that Allaire is an important factor in his choice to stay in Anaheim. He trained with him as a child, and frankly, so did many of the league's better netminders. Hiller and Gerber were scouted through Allaire's work in Switzerland, and Hiller credits the goaltending consultant as one of the major reasons he chose to sign here. The Ducks have an anemic prospect pool compared to the top teams in the league. This is no time to get rid of a peerless talent hound, not to mention a REASON why goalies want to play for Anaheim.

1 comment:

jamestobrien said...

Really enjoyed that piece. Good stuff on a great goaltending coach.