How has goaltending changed compared to when you first started your career?
CORY SCHNEIDER: I came in the league with some of the guys at the end of the past generation, but I’ve also been around for some of the newer techniques and technologies and younger goalies. Just from what I’ve seen, the technique today is so good. Kids are learning this stuff at six, seven, eight years old, and they’re playing year round, and their technique is almost impeccable. I watch guys come into the league now, and they all seem to play like Carey Price.
ROBERTO LUONGO: If I still played the way I did back in the day, I wouldn’t be in the NHL anymore. You have to evolve with the time and the position and the new techniques that come out every year.
DOMINIK HASEK: I see a big change with the sliding. I wasn’t a sliding goalie. I was a butterfly goalie, but I was more up and down. Quickly down, quickly up. Today it seems the goalies look lazy, but they are not lazy. The style can look like that. They’re on their knees even when the puck is behind they net. They don’t go quickly up. They stay on one knee. My goalie coach told me it started in the ’90s in Finland. Through the sliding you cover the lower part of the net unbelievably, much better than we did as a group as goalies in the ’90s.
MITCH KORN: Everybody shoots the puck hard. Pucks are shot now harder and faster than ever before. Sticks are made of this material, and they tell me there is metal in them now. I can tell you this: it’s not your grandfather’s wooden sticks propelling pucks to the net now.
MARTIN BRODEUR: The last few years I played – and now I watch a lot of hockey and a lot of goalies – I see it’s a lot more demanding physically than it used to be, because of how fast and good everybody’s getting a younger age. Also because they take…I wouldn’t say liberties, because they want to score goals, but there’s not a price to pay to go to the net hard. Back then, with Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko around me, if someone wanted to go to the net really hard, he would’ve paid a hefty price.
SCHNEIDER: When you look back at the older generations, you saw more improvisation. That’s a natural reaction of not being as technical. Guys like Marty Brodeur and Dominik Hasek and Mike Richter just made it up as they went. They read they game so well that they knew exactly what they were doing, but it looked like they had no technique. I’m not saying young guys don’t have that flair, that read of the game. I think they do. But some of that gamesmanship, going out and finding any way to stop the puck, it’s disappeared a little bit.
BRODEUR: The backups are better. They’re more prepared. Kids in the minors are more prepared. Before there was a huge drop from the No. 1 to the No. 2. Now you don’t even see that drop almost, unless you put it on a full-year-scale. You had Mike Condon come in last year out of college, he had to play all these games for Montreal. He got exposed a little bit, but when he was able to play a few games, you couldn’t even tell who was the No. 1 or No. 2 goalie.
JAMIE MCLENNAN: It’s harder to be a pro athlete today, period, because there’s no downtime in the public eye. Before you could be a human and you could hide a little bit, because there wasn’t social media and media outlets tracking your every move. Information has come to the forefront. There are always people trying to dig for deeper information on you as a person and an athlete.
What are the biggest differences between this goalie generation and the last in training and preparation?
COREY HIRSCH: The equipment. Goalies are able to practise harder, longer. Practice used to be survival. You really never got any better unless you were already a good goalie. Think of the stuff Mike Palmateer used to have to use. Think he was standing in front of a Zdeno Chara slapshot in practice with that stuff on? Not a chance. (laughs)
KORN: It’s way harder to be a goalie today. However, the goalies have greater luxuries today, because the equipment’s way better and way more protective, which allows you to actually practise hard. In the old days the equipment was so poor that even though guys didn’t shoot like they do now, you couldn’t work on your game, especially without masks.
HASEK: The equipment is much better than it was in the ’80s. The goalies can practise much harder, because they do not have to be afraid of the puck. Everything is very well covered. I remember in the ’80s, we had to be a little bit careful. You couldn’t catch the puck in your hand or glove. If you got hit on the shoulder or somewhere on the groin or from the side, it could be very painful.
SCHNEIDER: You’re getting incredible athletes in the net now. I’m seeing guys come into camp, and they’re 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, they weigh 220 pounds, and they have six percent body fat. They look like linebackers or tight ends. It used to be that goalies were just guys who can stop the puck, and they weren’t known for their physique. But now you look at some guys around the league, they’re tall, they’re strong, they’re athletic, and it’s almost not even a fair fight anymore. And that’s great. The goaltending position’s so athletic now that they’re drawing the kind of guys that maybe would’ve played defense or forward or a different sport.
HIRSCH: Goalies are in so much better shape now. That’s part of it. Most of us didn’t work out back in the ’80s. And then Mike Richter and Eddie Belfour ruined it for everybody. Let’s blame Vladislav Tretiak. Did Ken Dryden ever lift a weight? I don’t know. Mike Richter was a machine. You have no idea. Both of my legs put together were one of his. He won the Rangers fitness award every year.
KORN: Every organization has two goalie coaches now, one for the NHL and one for development, and some even have three. These young people are getting good goalie coaching as youths before they even get drafted or turn pro, which gets them way more prepared than they used to be. And the digital age, the ability to share information, the number of games they can watch, nationally, internationally, is amazing. When I grew up, I got to watch one game a week: Hockey Night in Canada, Saturday night. Now, with the Center Ice package, with satellite dishes, the Euro goalies are watching all of North America, which they never could before, and we can watch growing up every game, every goalie, every move they make. YouTube, NHL.com and Twitter provide information we never had before.
BRODEUR: When I started, there were maybe a few goalies who used to skate with a goalie coach in the summer. It never happened. Now there are full-fledged camps. There are eight NHL goalies coming in from eight different teams, practising together for a week in the summer. You’ve never seen that before. You’ve got guys who are outside sources. They’re not even employed by NHL teams, these coaches. There are just gurus out there who have their own players, personally coached, and you see the same thing going with forwards.
SCHNEIDER: At the same time, the days where kids played three sports and learned other skills are disappearing a bit. I played baseball and soccer up until high school, and I loved it. It helped my footwork. It helped my hand-eye co-ordination. So many guys get locked in year-round to hockey at 10, 11, 12 that maybe they’re prone to more injuries, like hip injuries, because they haven’t used their hips in other ways besides goaltending. I’ve heard kids from college and the minors are having double hip labrum surgeries. For the generation ahead of me and my generation, that’s rare. It seems like it’s the Tommy John now of hockey.
GRANT FUHR: There’s more time spent on goalies now, through specialized coaching and that sort of thing. It’s not so much you learn on the fly as you go anymore as you get help right out of the gate. We learned on our own. You figured the position out for yourself. Or you hoped you had a great partner that helped you out with it. Mitch Korn in Buffalo was the first goalie coach I had.
BRODEUR: I kind of laugh when people talk about terms of how they make saves. Different positioning off the post, a post lean or whatever. That was never in the language back then. I’d never heard of that. Puck tracking. These terms are fairly new.
Have goalies become too good?
LUONGO: I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue is just the way the game’s played now, with coaching systems and defensive systems and guys blocking shots. What creates the buzz in a building are great scoring chances, whether it’s a goal or a save. If chances are generated at a high rate, that’s what’s going to make hockey exciting. Hence the 3-on-3. It’s so wide open. There are so many scoring chances. People love that, right?
SCHNEIDER: It could be ebbing and flowing. Kids like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, Team North America from the World Cup, you saw how much speed they had. The Penguins play with a ton of speed, and the Capitals, and they score goals. As long as the league is heading in that direction, it’s going to be harder for goalies to be less athletic or just sit there and let pucks hit them.
FUHR: Goalies are better athletes, there are more good goalies now, but I don’t think it hurts the game. If anything, the defensive systems hurt the game more than the goalies do. If a goalie has a bad night, you can still score a lot of goals.
Is shrinking equipment the best way to increase scoring?
HASEK: I have to say it’s a good idea. Any time the goalies say that, I know the other goalies will hate me (laughs)! That’s normal. But you have to be very careful, because you have to be sure the goalies are protected very well, which they are today.
SCHNEIDER: I don’t think it’s going to be as great as everyone says. We made all the gear smaller after the lockout. We shrunk the pads a couple years ago. I agree with the sentiment that there are guys who look much, much larger than they are in person and that they’re only using the gear for blocking and not for protection. I’m all for protecting the guys and making sure they don’t get hurt, but I also don’t think you should abuse it and take up space in the net. It might have an impact on some guys, but the league’s becoming more athletic. Guys are becoming bigger and can move around like they’re 5-foot-10 when they’re 6-foot-5.
HIRSCH: It will have an impact on scoring, but for me it’s not about the scoring, it’s about having the athletic goalie and the best athletes. You’re putting back some excitement in the game. You’ll have rebounds and you’ll have athletic goaltending where they’ll have to play a little different to make saves.
BRODEUR: I don’t think it’s fair for me to talk about it that much, because I was never a guy who was blamed for cheating and I never wanted to expose anyone either. My thing is, if everybody’s in the same boat, if the playing field is equal for everyone, it shouldn’t matter what kind of equipment you wear.
HASEK: There is a cheater on the catching glove. If you ask any goalie, he loves it. I love it. But if you cut it for everyone, it would make a difference. I don’t know if you can cut one inch of pad. I don’t know. There is not too much room for cutting anymore, as you have to be protected well because of things like one timers.
SCHNEIDER: I would much rather shrink the equipment before I changed the nets. Making bigger nets would be a last resort. I’d even say after the equipment I would change some of the rules in the game. Guys can’t leave their feet to block shots, change the neutral zone rules, something to opening up the game and create more scoring chances – before bigger nets. Maybe I’m just an historian and enjoy the classic part of the game, but it would be like making them bigger in basketball. Part of it just feels wrong. But if goalies keep getting bigger and in 10 years the average goalie is 6-foot-5…they didn’t design the nets for 6-foot-5 goalies. They designed them for guys who are 5-foot-8, 5-foot-9, 5-foot-10, and maybe that’s just evolution.
HIRSCH: I’m wondering what it would be like if you have a zone in front of the net where you’re only allowed there for a few seconds in defensive mode, like the illegal defense rule in basketball.
SCHNEIDER: Would the league like more scoring? Of course. But I also think the style of play is just as important. If you have an up-and-down-the-ice game that’s a 3-2 game, that’s fantastic, as opposed to 20 shots, everything’s getting blocked, there’s no room in the neutral zone. A 3-2 game that way is not nearly as exciting.
FUHR: I’d put the weight back in the equipment. Heavy equipment makes it harder to move. Harder to move, smaller equipment. It shrinks by itself. That’s why we wore it smaller. It was heavy. You didn’t want to wear it big.
KORN: We can manipulate the rules. I’m a big believer that, short of picking the puck up and throwing it in, there are a lot more ways to score goals than are currently allowed. Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in World Cup. He used his glove, he punched it in, it didn’t it his stick like he hoped it would. Why isn’t that a goal? Why isn’t the goal that Andrew Shaw headbutted in a few years ago a goal? Why can’t you kick the puck in the net? Why can’t you hand-pass the puck anywhere on the ice? I think these more than changing goalie equipment will enhance goal scoring that they’re looking for.
What’s the most difficult skill for any goalie to master?
HASEK: You have to have talent, you have to have very good reactions, you have to be a very good skater. Good flexibility is helpful. And you cannot give up. It’s most important. You have to be a leader, because the team is behind you. You’re the last on the team who gives up. The team depends on you.
FUHR: To get to the NHL, once you’re at that level you’ve got all the physical skills. To stay there and be good, it’s the mental side. You know you get to make a difference every day, good or bad. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to lose your confidence, and it’s hard to get it back. So I think the hardest thing to master is yourself, just in your own mind.
SCHNEIDER: The hardest part is reading the play. It’s tough, because the only way you get better at it is by playing more. But you only play if you’re good enough to play. So it’s important for guys to get the reps, at the minor league level, in college, in junior, ECHL, the AHL.
BRODEUR: I think being consistent. You can do as many reps as you want, but to be able to play at a level and keep that level for 60 minutes a game, some people have a hard time doing that or have a hard time doing it playing three games in four nights.
HIRSCH: It’s probably the art of waiting for the play to develop. You really have no choice but to wait for a shooter to shoot it, because if you move too soon, you expose the net. The best guys have the ability to make the shooter panic first. Carey Price. Marty Brodeur. They don’t move. They wait out the shooter.
LUONGO: The mental side. That’s the most important thing. You need to be sharp as far as being confident and knowing what you need to do on any given night. But as soon as a little bit of doubt creeps in your mind, it’s weird how bad things start to happen. The thing I’ve tried to master my whole career, and it’s practically impossible but you do work on it, is the mental side and being able to go out there and be at the top of your game every night.
KORN: The easiest skill for me as a coach to help the goalie with are physical skills. The efficiencies, the way they contort their body, the way they get tight. Mental skills are harder, like tracking the puck off the stick and recognizing patterns in plays, because you can only really do that after the fact. You need video after the game often to do that.
BRODEUR: When you play a lot, the bad things that happen are just little checkmarks, and you move on. It’s how good you’re able to bounce back. And that’s how you become consistent. That’s the challenge for every single goalie. Your performance matters, but you need to be bigger than your performance. That’s what makes you a goalie who every night people will have the same feeling about your game. It’s not going to be a good game, a bad game, an OK game. You’re just going to be consistent every time you go in. Your reaction to plays will be consistent. And that really helps you in the playoffs. It’s an extra step. Everything is overanalyzed.
KORN: And maybe the hardest skills to possess or manage are the emotional skills, being able to bounce back after a bad game or bad goal, and being able to control your mind, your emotions, your self talk, your highs and lows during a game. Because you’re all by yourself. You’re out there all by yourself. The puck’s at the other end of the ice. And I can’t help them! Unless they tell me what’s going through their minds or what they’re thinking or whether their heart rate goes up or down…I will never know. And I can’t practice 18,000 people in a building in a 2-1 game with 30 seconds left! That’s where body of work comes in. And you have to experience it to experience it. You can’t practice it. You can prepare all you want, but until you’re in that element you can’t replicate it.
Are goalies always the weirdest guy on the team? Or is that a myth?
BRODEUR: It’s true. I’ve played with guys where I was amazed. I’m not one of them – I think anyway – but more and more you see players have these different things you do, and you’re shaking your head. I tried to minimize it. There’s so much going on your hockey career that less is more sometimes. I’ve seen guys and thought, ‘Why are they going through this?” but it becomes natural to them, and they feel more prepared because of it.
KORN: I coached a goalie that had lucky sticks. And when he broke his last lucky stick, it went to hell in a handbasket.
SCHNEIDER: It’s like a baseball pitcher. You have to do whatever you need to to get into a mental state where you’re going to play well. That lends itself to some weird habits and traditions and superstitions. It’s inherent with the position that you have to be a little bit different than everyone else.
LUONGO: One guy I played with, he wouldn’t lift his mask up during the game, so he’d always have to keep it down. And one time, he was eating a power bar during a TV timeout, and he wouldn’t lift his mask up, and he was feeding it through his grill, but he couldn’t reach his mouth because it was too far away (laughs).
BRODEUR: I had backups who would play five games a year, and they wouldn’t talk to anyone the day they played. Like, seriously? Enjoy that day you’re playing at least! (laughs). But I always respected that regardless of who they were on my team. Everybody needs to do their own things to be 100 percent ready when they play.
Do or did you have any quirks or superstitions of your own?
HIRSCH: My second NHL game was in Los Angeles. Guys barely know me. I’m a kid from junior and came up from the minors. I’m playing Gretzky and all them. First period goes by, and I don’t get scored on. Second period they score three goals on me. Then I’m like, “OK.” What I used to do is a complete mental reset. So I would get completely undressed, naked, right down to nothing. I’ve got all these guys, NHL players that don’t even know me, watching this 20-year-old kid get completely undressed after the second period and then redressed again in 15 minutes. I didn’t get scored on in the third, and we won 8-3.
HASEK: Patrick Roy, he always had to jump over the lines on the ice. I always before the game had one way I made the ice in front of me in the crease. From one side and from post to post. I think it was four times from side to side.
MCLENNAN: There were a lot of things I would do. It had nothing to do with “I was a crazy goalie.” It was, “Hey, I’ve got to keep my mind in it. If not I’ll be looking in the stands for a cute girl or to see if my parents are there.” It’s easy to get distracted. I’d have these routines that would keep my dialled in to the game. I’ve thought about it long after my career. I knew what I was as a player, but you always wanted to be better, and you look back and wonder if sometimes your mental makeup got in the way of some of your skill.
FUHR: I tried to keep it as normal as possible. The game’s hard enough with enough different variables without having to worry about whether you put one pad on one way or another, so you’re just adding another element to things, like having to be asleep at a certain time and such. With all the travel and stuff, things don’t work normally.
What’s something you see in young goalies today that grinds your gears?
BRODEUR: I’ve got one playing in junior, and I hate to watch what he does. Everybody does it! (haha). When goalies go on their knees, I know it’s a fast move, but for them to shuffle on their knees to go everywhere on the ice and not use their ability of skating, I don’t like it. I see goalies get themselves into position, and the guy takes a shot, it goes wide, he goes down in the butterfly, the puck hits the corner, wraps around to the hash marks on the side boards… that goalie went down, pushed to his post, and the puck is not even there, and pushed themselves back instead of just getting up and going straight to where the puck is supposed to be. A lot of goalies do that, and that bothers me. You guys are wasting way too much energy. I must’ve been lazy when I played, because I didn’t want to move too much out there! (laughs)
FUHR: You see everybody going down on every shot. I haven’t figured that one out yet. You can always butterfly, but at the same time, the easiest way to make a save is on your feet. I was always taught you get up so you get the second and third shot. You don’t stay down.
KORN: What drives me crazy is goalies sliding all over the place when they can actually stay on their feet and skate to where they need to go. There’s nothing wrong with sliding at the right time. But overusing any move, using any move at the wrong time because they see it on TV, that drives me crazy.
HIRSCH: They’re overcoached, a lot of young goalies. It’s being careful more where you get your information from. Everyone and their dog right now is out there as a goalie coach. Everybody loves goalies and appreciates passion, but you better be getting the right information, or it’s expensive and you’re wasting your money on someone that’s giving you what they believe is right, but it’s not the right information.
LUONGO: It grinds my gears that they’re all good (laughs). It seems everybody can play goalie at a high level. It’s so hard. There’s very, very little difference between a starter and a backup nowadays.
KORN: For me the reverse is more of a big boy save. The smaller you are, the more vulnerable you are when you get into that position. I see it so many times used ineffectively, too early, too often. When the puck’s on the wall, there’s no reason to be in reverse, when the pucks 45 or 50 feet away from you. I think that’s worse than the dropping or sliding.
MCLENNAN: Not at the NHL level, as it’s been weeded out, but there are too many “hockey school goalies” out there. Technically they look amazing in practice. But how does it translate to a game when you’ve got traffic, you’ve got people banging into you, little things like… playing in Detroit, I knew the boards ere lively. There are factors you can’t teach in a hockey school. That’s what drives me nuts, when you see a goaltender from a structural standpoint has all the tools but can’t put it together. He doesn’t have the ability to adjust. Sometimes a tip at the last second, a read, maybe a defenseman comes across your sightline. There are so many things that factor into making a save or not making a save. It drives me nuts when I see guys who allow a goal, and I think it’s avoidable by tracking the puck, like watching it into your glove, or having the presence of mind to know what the options are, instead of “ugh, I’m gonna go down and be big and try to get hit by it. That’s something that frustrates a lot of former goalies.
Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur.
The butterfly reached peak popularity with Patrick Roy in the 1980s and 1990s. Are we transitioning away from that style?
LUONGO: I don’t think so. Butterfly is always going to be the most effective way to stop the puck. But you’re also seeing different techniques as far as where the puck is on the ice. When the puck’s behind the net or at a bad angle, sometimes the butterfly’s not the most effective way to be. But in a straight-on shooting situation, the best and most efficient way to stop the puck is the butterfly.
SCHNEIDER: The game’s becoming so fast and high-paced that you can’t just rely on the butterfly. You have to hold your feet longer than you may have before. As the game opens up more, you have to able to move. You can’t just stay on your knees and slide around. I try to play a bit of a hybrid. I’m predominantly butterfly, but I do try to maintain my feet and not commit too early.
FUHR: The game’s turning more toward the hybrid. Once you take eliminate hooking, holding, goalies have to move and be able to be athletic again.
HIRSCH: When Jonathan Quick won those Stanley Cups, we saw a bit of a change to the crab-like goalie. Flexible. I see a bit of that. That’s a special skill. I would have a tough time coaching a guy like Quick, because that’s not what I teach. Billy Ranford’s done a really good job there. We’re seeing more of that, which is great, because to me it’s athleticism.
BRODEUR: The athleticism of goalies is getting back in the game. Technique is very important, but you have to read the plays. You can’t just be blocking shots all the time. You have to be more in control. Especially with a quick game, there’s a lot going on, there are a lot of desperate saves to be made, and the only thing to do is just react and play hockey, not just block shots. You see it in Price. He’s a really quiet goalie, but when it’s really time for him to be desperate. Holtby, Luongo, a lot of guys have a lot of success doing that.
KORN: I’ve got a saying: the butterfly is a save, not a style. Because playing goal is way more than that. And so we’ve been transitioning away from that. When you think of all the goalies who came out of the lockout in 2004-04 and did not fare very well, the transition began then. Remember how we talked about ‘The New NHL’? Well I’ll tell you what: it’s a new NHL every day. It gets faster every day. The players get better every day. The game changes every day.
Who’s the best goalie in the NHL today and why?
BRODEUR: Carey Price. His success internationally, the way he carried his team the first part of the year before last. We got to play him in Montreal, and we outchanced them four to one and we were not even in the game just because of him. I just feel right now, when he’s not hurt or sick, he’s the best. He really impresses me. And I’ve watched a lot just because I’m from Montreal and a lot of people are always talking about him. All my buddies and stuff.
MCLENNAN: Carey Price. I don’t hesitate on that one.
SCHNEIDER: Carey Price gets a lot of that recognition, which he should. The year he had, and the World Cup. I think he’s the pinnacle of technique combined with athleticism and improvisation. A lot of guys set him as the gold standard.
FUHR: I put it a tie between Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist. They’re different styles. Henrik’s more of your traditional butterfly goalie, and Carey’s more of your hybrid goalie, but both guys seem able to make that big save for that team when you need it.
HIRSCH: Easily Carey Price. The best goalies in the world have a certain demeanor, where they just don’t give a shit. They care, but nothing fazes them. And Marty and was the same way. They’ve got a different level of competitiveness and anxiety. Most of us who are super competitive have a certain anxiety level. Like I couldn’t sleep after a bad game. It would bug me for days. Whereas those guys are like, “Meh.”
LUONGO: Carey Price, because he’s got the most talent, and when you have a good technique and you have the most talent, it’s a tough combination to beat.
SCHNEIDER: A rival of mine Henrik Lundqvist, I always appreciate a guy who year in and year out just churns a way. For a decade or more he’s been one of the best goalies in the NHL, and I have a lot of appreciation for that longevity and how much he works at his craft.
You have to win a Game 7 and can start any goalie who ever lived. You can’t pick yourself. Go.
BRODEUR: I would go with Patrick. What I’m looking for in goalies is being consistent. Patrick Roy is going to play how many good games and no bad goals. Not spectacular, as much as a guy like Dominik Hasek who can steal you a game at any time. For me, Patrick is just more of a guy I look up to, not in the way he played but in how consistent he was. Never had a bad year. That’s what I wanted to achieve. Play a lot, being durable and being consistent every single year. It was a goal of mine to always be in the top five in wins. Goals-against average, I didn’t really care, and save percentage, I couldn’t control that because of where I played. And Patrick, if you look throughout his career, he was always there. That’s why I would pick him.
SCHNEIDER: I have to go with my guy in Jersey, Marty. Won three Cups. Won the Olympics. Having played with him, just seeing how cool and calm he is, it doesn’t matter if it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup or Game 1 of the regular season. He has the same demeanor and same conviction and confidence. He was a big-game goalie. He loves that spotlight and situation.
HASEK: I’ll go with Patrick Roy. He won more Stanley Cups. Patrick Roy in his prime time.
MCLENNAN: Give me Grant Fuhr. I’m unbelievably biased because I grew up watching him and played with him in St. Louis. Even in my book I talk about how he said against Phoenix one night, “Guys, just get me one goal tonight and I’ll be good.” And we won 1-0. It was a Game 7 in the playoffs. I know the term “money goaltender” or “clutch” has been challenged, but Fuhrsy was clutch (laughs).
LUONGO: Patrick, because he was so competitive. You could tell his intensity level was always higher than everybody else’s.
FUHR: I would have to go with Terry Sawchuk. Growing up watching, he seemed to be ‘The Guy’ at that time.
Who’s the scariest player you ever had to face?
HASEK: Mario Lemieux. Even though were numbers not the best against me, he was the player I was most afraid of. I remember when we played against Mario, I said to my defense, “Everywhere he goes, be sure you know where he is. Even if he’s behind the net, get to him” (laughs).
HIRSCH: Mario. Easily. He was big, he was strong, he had a reach. He could do all of it. It was ridiculous. People ask me, “Gretzky or Mario?” And no disrespect to Gretzky, but I caught Gretzky at the end of his career. I caught Mario in his prime, and I’d never seen anything like that, ever.
BRODEUR: It’s too bad, because I didn’t play in the prime of Gretzky and Lemieux, but for me it was Jaromir Jagr. I’ve played so much against him with Pittsburgh or the Rangers, and for me he was the best.
FUHR: Al MacInnis. He had the shot that (1) was hard, (2) was heavy. So it seemed to find ways to roll off you into the net.
MCLENNAN: Al MacInnis was ridiculous. You know who had a bomb, who was scary? Al Iafrate. He had a touch of recklessness to him. Another guy who terrified me all the time was Joe Sakic because of his release. You couldn’t read it off his stick. He would beat you before you were set.
SCHNEIDER: Guys with those elite releases, the Vladimir Tarasenkos, the Ovechkins, they mask the puck well but get a lot on it.
LUONGO: A guy like Ovechkin always comes to mind, because he likes to shoot the puck a lot and he has a hard shot and quick release and places it well. When you play a guy like that, you always have to pay extra attention to him, because he’s dangerous and they’re gonna try to give him the puck and he can score from anywhere on the ice.