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Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard doesn’t believe CHL’s proposed import goalie ban will help kids

Paul noted that the Canadian Hockey League--which is the umbrella organization representing the three Major Junior hockey leagues that are the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League--may or may not be planning on banning European-born goaltenders to protect what some elements in the CHL believe is a present as well as future threat to the development of American and especially Canadian-born goaltenders.

Yahoo Sports' Sunaya Sapurji spoke to Red Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard about the issue, and Bedard believes that the plain old fact that playing goal is incredibly expensive, especially in terms of having to buy and then replace gear as growing players no longer fit in to their equipment, isn't getting enough attention...

[T]he cold hard fact is playing hockey in Canada has become an expensive undertaking. Many families can no longer afford the cost – ice time, travel fees, equipment, etc. – to keep their children playing. It’s even pricier if your child happens to be a goaltender. It can become financially crippling and many talented goalies are forced out by economics.

“That’s definitely a factor,” said Bedard, a former OHL goaltender who also runs summer camps to help young goalies. “I see kids who come to camp with a lot of potential but their equipment is very shabby. You can see that the parents have been stretched to the limit with the cost of the equipment. If you want everything custom and to keep up with everything, you’re looking at a $2,500 to $4,000 bill from head-to-toe. It’s a very expensive position.”

There is also a plain truth in the fact that there are more skaters and goalies in the U.S. and Canada than, say, the goaltending factory that is Finland (it should be noted that in Europe, most players remain with the same organization from the time they lace up their skates until they "turn pro," and those organizations tend to help subsidize equipment and ice time), so it's easier to get one's hands on a position-specific, skating or physical conditoning coach, whereas over here, the ratio of coaches to players is much lower...

And as such, accessing specialized coaching is also cost-prohibitive:

There is also the high cost for goalie-specific training, since most minor hockey teams are without a designated goalie coach. Coaching clinics for goaltenders are a necessity that can run into the thousands for parents and that’s not even counting the time and mileage to get them there.

“I’d say on instruction alone that was at least $500 to $1,000 a year for a 10-year period,” said [Alain] Jodouin, who would drive [his son] Richard an hour each way from Prescott, Ont., to Ottawa for coaching. “So we spent at least $10,00 to $15,000 on goalie instruction.”

And that’s not even counting registration fees, ice-time and related ancillaries such as traveling to out-of-town tournaments and spending weekends in hotels. So, the problem of development starts long before players ever make it to the CHL. One way in which European federations are combating the cost of developing their goalies is by providing regional development camps free of charge.

Sapurji and Bedard note that specialized caoching is provided free of charge, too...

In Sweden and Finland it’s not uncommon to have a head goalie coach with four or five instructors travel around the country to work with goalies, visiting every team at almost every level of hockey.

“They schedule all the kids in with practices and if they’re working with say 10-12 year olds’ teams, they’ll maybe have six (goalies) in one session,” said Bedard, who played 14 seasons in Finland with TPS in the SM-liiga. “But they’ll have all those goalies work with them on fundamentals and power skating. So that’s where they’re farther ahead of us. Here it’s strictly private enterprise all the time and parents are whisking kids off to private lessons.”

But Bedard's bottom line is simple:

“How about be better? Be better than them,” said Bedard of the perceived European threat. “In the NHL we can’t have import goalies eventually because we want to make sure that Timmy and Tommy and Bobby and Billy get a chance to play? If you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough. That’s the way it goes.”

Helping players grow into players who are better tha their European peers involves addressing the issues that make the position cost-prohibitive in terms of equipment, playing the game and accessing goalies coaches and goalie-specific coaches. A ban on "imports" won't do anything to address those issues or increase the number or quality of Canadian-born goalies.

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OnlyWings's avatar

A ban on “imports” won’t do anything to address those issues or increase the number or quality of Canadian-born goalies.

Agreed 100%

I have been a Goalie parent for 11 years and the last 4 or 5 year costs are $3500 -$4000 per year as these kids grow very fast.  Goalie Skates in Peewee Size 6 Goalie Skates in Midget Size 11.5.  If you use top of the line heat molded Grafs ($700) with a backup pair ($300 to $400). Replace every year with little trade in Value.. Well you get the idea and that is only skates! Goalie Camps, Registration costs $750, travel/lodging for Tournaments, etc etc

Fun but very expensive.  Most Coaches at the Minor league level know diddly about Goalies adding to costs. In Canadian $$, also , EH, LOL

Stupid idea by CHL IMO

Posted by OnlyWings on 06/11/13 at 05:29 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Jesus, having to pay the HST on top of the fact that buying Canadian-made goalie gear is—bizarrely—$50-100 more per piece of equipment in Canada…

And I cannot tell you how incredibly angry it makes me that companies like Reebok have sent ALL of their equipment manufacturing to Asia, but they don’t charge a penny less for their gear, regardless of whether it’s professional-level stuff or “price point” or “entry-level” gear.

That’s an issue where someone like Bedard, who is sponsored by Vaughn (at least Vaughn still makes a significant chunk of their gear in Oxford, Michigan and London, Ontario) can’t speak out because he’d be biting the hand that helps keep his goalie camps from being even more expensive than they already are.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/11/13 at 05:41 PM ET

OnlyWings's avatar

Some Minor leagues used to supply Goalie gear up to Peewee as most kids up to that point are still not sure if they want to play goal. Many would play goal one game and play “out” the next with a 2 or 3 goalie system on teams.  So you have a young child that needs Goalie gear and players gear and is 6 to 12 year old with 2 sets of equipment.  I have been lucky that my son got on a team that only had one goalie a few times. 

Vaughn , Brians, etc is good gear but big $$$.  Actually I bought most of my gear at Don Simmons (Worlds only Made in Canada Superstore) located in Ontario. Yes Reebok is a joke and gear only lasts a year if you are lucky.  Vaughn at least does sponsor a lot of the Goalies at camps.  In the future professional team Goalies will come outside Canada.  Also goalies who seek educational scholarships in the US will drop significantly as they will simply not be good enough.  A College scholarship in the USA for a Canadian Goalie/Hockey player is HUGE HUGE dollars saved for post education.  Not many universities in Canada to cover all the Goalies looking to further Education/Careers.

I don’t think the CHL thought this through and got the right people involved while making this brutal decision.

Posted by OnlyWings on 06/11/13 at 07:20 PM ET

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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.


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