AP Photo / John Locher
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 | 2 a.m.
A lot of factors accept contributed to the Vegas Golden Knights’ shockingly acceptable alpha to their countdown season, but annihilation has been added active than goaltending.
Whether it has been three-time Stanley Cup best Marc-Andre Fleury or rookies Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk or Maxime Lagace (each of whom has becoming the aboriginal win of their careers this season), the Golden Knights accept accustomed amazing comedy in advanced of the net.
The man abaft it all is Dave Prior.
The 61-year-old goalie drillmaster formed with Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee during his administration with the Washington Capitals from 1997-2013. Prior accomplished for the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars afore that, as able-bodied as a assignment with the German civic team.
McPhee, who assassin Prior as the Golden Knights’ administrator of goaltending and goaltender drillmaster in August 2016, said he is the best goalie drillmaster in the NHL.
Prior has the résumé to aback up that claim. He accomplished the Capitals’ Olaf Kölzig in 2000, the year he won Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s best outstanding goaltender. He afterwards helped advance the Capitals’ Braden Holtby, who took the Vezina Trophy in 2016, and boasts a continued account of added acknowledged goalies beneath his tutelage.
Prior batten with the Las Vegas Sun about how he’s gotten the best out of his goalies this season.
In all of your years of coaching, accept you anytime apparent annihilation like the Golden Knights’ goalie injuries to alpha the year?
I came into the alliance 35 years ago and accept been apprenticeship for 27 years, and I don’t bethink annihilation like this.
How afflicted accept you been with the goalies? Every guy who accomplish in seems to acceleration to the occasion.
We adopted them with the acceptance that they had upside to them, admitting accomplishing little to this point in their careers. They all formed actual adamantine through training camp, and I was encouraged by what I saw. I didn’t apprehend to accept to apparatus this early, but I can’t say abundant about how accommodating they’ve been to chase admonition and how they’ve worked. They’re now accomplishment the allowances of their adamantine work.
The goalies accept told me they like your apprenticeship because you don’t try to change their appearance of play, alone accomplish tweaks to advance them. Why is that important?
I do change things that are, in my opinion, burst — that are costing them goals. But I don’t behest the appearance they play. Goaltenders all appear in altered shapes and sizes. I’ve accomplished guys from the admeasurement of Artūrs Irbe (5-foot-8, 190-pound goaltender for the Soviet Union and four altered NHL teams from 1991-2004) to Kölzig (6-foot-3, 220 batter goalie nicknamed “Godzilla”). To ask either of them to comedy like the added would be a absolute abuse to them.
I’m not as abased on their appearance as abundant as we try to authorize a action of how they play.
You go from a adept in Fleury, who makes a lot of reactionary saves, to Subban, who is a big kid who uses his anatomy and angles to accomplish saves. Was it boxy to acclimatize to that, and does the blow of the aggregation accept to change the way it plays?
I don’t anticipate so. I anticipate some of the goaltenders await a little added on their aegis to apple-pie up in advanced of them in agreement of backlash control. Obviously back Subban comes in, I would adjudge he has a thousand beneath practices in the NHL than Fleury, so to apprehend that he will be as aesthetic of a goalie is wrong.
He absolutely reacts able-bodied for his size. Marc-Andre has a actual accomplished eye for the puck, admitting these added guys are active added on chiral pilot. It’s not built-in in them yet.
How agitative is it for a drillmaster who has molded goalies into stars to accept a anticipation like Subban who has all of the concrete accoutrement and the abeyant he has?
The way I ask our goalies to comedy is added difficult than abounding coaches’ systems, so I alone attending for guys I anticipate are physically able of carrying those abilities. Subban was drafted high, and Dansk was out of the aforementioned abstract and alone a few picks later.
I wasn’t as accustomed with Dansk so it was demography a bit of a action in suggesting we action him a contract, but he hasn’t aghast me in any way. It appears that he does accept the upside that will acquiesce him to anytime acreage a job in the NHL, whether it’s actuality or elsewhere.
We don’t appetite to accord abroad all of your secrets, but what do you beggarly back you say you ask your goalies to comedy different?
I’m old-school and I accept a lot in blockage on your anxiety best than abounding coaches do in the avant-garde era. I anticipate it helps advance controlling skills.
This isn’t new to me in agreement of what we’ve been able to do. We did a heck of job with the agents in drafting and developing our goaltenders in Washington, and I’m actual appreciative of fast-tracking adolescent men to the NHL.
I’ve absolutely begin alive with these guys is far beneath difficult because they’ve accomplished a lot of lows in their careers already. Failure isn’t as adverse to them because they apperceive the sun shines again. It’s easier for them to administer the things I advise them quicker.
Has it afraid you at all how able-bodied Subban, Dansk and Lagace accept played appropriate off the bat afterwards actuality befuddled into the fire?
I am. They’ve exceeded my expectations is the best way to put it. But accepting said that, I don’t anticipate I could apprehend anyone to assignment harder than all three of them accept and that includes (19-year-old backup) Dylan Ferguson.
It was a big account for Subban to watch Marc-Andre Fleury arena some of his best ambition in his career for us, and you apprehend what it takes and how exact you accept to be. Oscar again got to see that with Malcolm and again Lagace with Dansk. They’re all a little altered in how they play, but they’ve all formed absolutely adamantine to get it right.
McPhee said one of your best assets as a goalie drillmaster is you apperceive back to stick up for your guys and back to accredit accusation to the goalie. Can you explain that accord amid you and drillmaster Gerard Gallant?
I accent that we charge to be accountable. As a goaltender, your amount comes from bailing out your teammates back they spiral up and accomplish mistakes. But you’re activity to accomplish mistakes too. I’d like to accept I set a actual aerial accepted for my goaltenders.
I call myself as actual ytical but additionally actual supportive, and I would say that’s what goaltenders recognize. Initially it’s a little abashing to apprehend so abundant abrogating about how you’re accomplishing things. But already they alpha to get it, they admit it. I don’t bandy praises about until they acquire them, so that back they get them they apperceive it’s deserved. It builds a lot of aplomb if you apperceive you aren’t artificially actuality accepted — you apperceive you’re good.
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