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The Malik Report

Goalies are crazy. And superstitious, too

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon or tree scientist to know that anyone who volunteers to stand in front of projectiles, much less someone who volunteers to try to stop them with parts of their body, is crazy. I should know; I stupidly agreed to stop playing the instigator’s role while hacking and whacking my friends in high school and stepped into the crease, and was never allowed to leave it. Perhaps even more worrisome for me, I enjoy playing goal.

But when your entire position is based on a losing proposition—the puck is always going to get past you at some point, and you’re going to be the scapegoat sooner or later—you tend to manage the futility of your chosen job by utilizing superstitions, and the Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek wrote a wonderful article about the fact that, in a very superstitious sport, goalies might be the best at coping with insanity by doing whatever works:

Managing performance is tied to superstition for some players, according to former New York Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn, who at 18 became the third-youngest player to win a game at the NHL level.

“The connotation of the word ‘superstition’ is that it’s negative,” says Blackburn, who coaches goaltending in the Dallas area. “I think that the way most goalies look at it is as habits – to be habitual about things and have positive habits, because when you do something repetitively and you do it all the time, that builds structure in your game.”

On the other hand, after the Boston Bruins lost the first two games in the opening round to Montreal last week, goaltender Tim Thomas switched the suits he was wearing to the arena in the hopes of changing his luck. The Bruins won Game 3, and Thomas came back with the same suit for Games 4, 5 and 6 – at which point Montreal finally won again and Thomas decided the suit had lost its karmic power. The Bruins won Game 7.

There was a similar scenario involving Thomas and the mustache he grew during the Movember awareness campaign for prostate cancer. Thomas kept the mustache beyond November, because his kids thought it looked cool. When he finally shaved it, though, Thomas fell into a funk. He grew the mustache back, his game came around again and now he is nominated for the Vézina Trophy.

[Glenn] Healy also caught Thomas and centre David Krejci playing “a little game of catch with the puck before every game. Krejci shoots it at Thomas, Thomas shoots it back to Krejci.”

“Okay, Gregory Campbell can’t do that?” Healy says. “No, it’s got to be Krejci. They do it because they did it once and it worked, so they’re going to keep doing it.”

Continued, and it’s worth your time.

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Comments

stonehands-78's avatar

George a goalie? He said, they’re “crazy”? It’s starting to make sense ...  grin

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 05/01/11 at 02:05 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.