USA Hockey’s Warren Strelow National Goaltending Mentor Program seeks to attract athletes at a young age by making goaltending one of the most desired positions in all of sports.
Having the goalie coach for the Stanley Cup winners on board should help.
Mike Buckley was recently promoted to goaltending coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins after serving four years as the organization’s goalie development coach, and also has devoted his time to working with young players via the Strelow program.
“My role is to come in and be a guest instructor, to share my thoughts on goaltending and get to work with goalies with whom you would not normally work,” Buckley said. “It exposes you to other teaching methods and to other goalies so you can share your thoughts.
“It’s been very successful. It has created a goalie culture of learning. It exposes goalies to other teaching methods that they otherwise wouldn’t get to learn. It’s really an honor to be chosen as a goaltending coach.”
The program is designed to develop raw, athletic talent into fundamentally sound, multi-dimensional goaltenders. It also seeks to develop goaltenders mentally to help each one face all of the unique challenges the position presents.
The end result of this program is to have USA Hockey produce goaltenders that consistently rank among the best in the world, and increase the depth of elite USA goaltenders to the point where it becomes even more difficult to select goaltenders for the U.S. National Team.
Besides his mentoring work with USA Hockey, Buckley is joining the Penguins coaching staff after four years spent working on the development of the organization’s goalie prospects.
In that time, the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, finished with the lowest goals-against average in the AHL three times — including this past season in which they compiled the league’s best overall regular-season record.
The year prior, Buckley was the goaltending coach at the University of New Hampshire, where his work helped the Wildcats advance to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Buckley has some stern words of advice for anybody who aspires to be a goalie coach at any level of hockey.
“Technical goaltending is out of control especially with social media,” he said. “Everyone thinks they’re a goalie coach and knows the easiest way to break down the game. In truth, it’s not that complicated.
“I’ve never seen a goalie just based on technique. If too much emphasis is placed on technique, then paralysis by analysis occurs.”
Buckley, who has worked with goaltenders from the youth level to NHL netminders Tuuka Rask, Marc-Andre Fluery, and Jonathan Quick, has one objective in mind.
“To me the level doesn’t matter,” he said. “I get as much satisfaction seeing a youth hockey goalie get to the highest level possible with his ability.
“If I feel I’ve had an impact on a goalie with the work I have done, it doesn’t matter what level they’re at. Getting to the highest level is most satisfying to me.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.