Unique characters leave ever-lasting impressions on the world of sports, in forms ranging from Bill Lee’s spaceman persona to Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins’ claim of being an extraterrestrial from the planet Lovetron. Netminders, however, are a unique breed, as they demonstrate a wide variety of odd behavioral patterns whilst maintaining a job seemingly without any perks. This has become a recurring phenomenon in this sporting life, even with NHL expansion limiting some of the quirkiness, and it makes you wonder: “What goes on behind that mask?”
Here I offer a few examples of the men between the pipes expressing their eccentric interests:
Carey Price of the Habs shows us his white guy moves.
The philosophical musings of Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov (NOTE: Yes, I know the whole universe thing is really overused at this point, but it works.)
Marc-Andre Fleury shows us his best pirouette.
These instances can go on forever, but other notable awkward actions (from the past) include Patrick Roy’s chats with his posts, Glenn Hall’s chronic pre-game vomiting, and Jacques Plante’s knitting hobby.
In his iconic sports memoir “The Game”, Montreal goaltending legend Ken Dryden (who was much more of a practicer of normalcy than other netminders, but understanding of the more bizarre points of hockey) describes playing goal as un-fun, stating that “it is a dull, humorless position, mostly uncreative, requiring little physical movement, giving little physical pleasure in return.” He also states that the goaltender can do little to change the direction of the game. With this in mind, it’s fair to say with such little responsibility and so much individualism, the absence of a usual athlete’s reservation is fairly natural. Certain people handle the necessary lone wolf nature of the position differently. But let’s go back to Bryz for a minute, maybe he can offer us something:
Starting about 3:35 on, Bryz talks about the relativity of normalcy in the world, especially in this game. He does admit to the eccentricities of goaltenders, but he suggests maybe it’s just them trying to stay sane in a crazy world filled with people willing to take things head on without proper preparation. Seems valid, perhaps the netminder has just acheived a higher sense of understanding of what is true. The cult classic video game Psychonauts features a quote that represents this sentiment well:
Sometimes isolation is a good thing. It can lead to… important discoveries.
So now it all makes sense. Thank you, I’ll be here all week.