The Case for Patience
Everybody knows patience is rule 1A of goaltending. We all know leaving your edges before you have to is pretty much a death sentence for your stats. But this isn’t the type of patience I’m preaching about today. Today, we’re learning knowledge about developmental patience.
I imagine the majority of you are in your mid to late teens, perhaps just cracking some midget or prep school squads. Maybe you just got drafted to Major Junior and can’t help but to start looking a year or two ahead. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that one too many times. Allow me to be the voice of reason when I say, pump the brakes.
The idea of developmental patience is to dominate the league you’re in before you try to move up, learn to play the game at your level, and then take a step forward. Goaltending isn’t about how good you look in training videos; it’s not about how crisp your pushes are or how smooth you recover. It’s about absorbing and understanding how to properly read a play, communicating with your players and controlling the flow of the game while perfecting your technique is what will allow your career to progress. That is how you really learn the game.
Let me drag you down the Jake Williams rabbit hole with a little anecdote. I had a decent year as a 16-year-old at Mass prep school, landing me on the preliminary NHL central scouting list. My impatience outran the advice of people who knew far better, leading me to sign with a bottom of the barrel EJHL team the following year. I got torched. In no way was I mature enough to take on that responsibility. I wasn’t ready to billet, I wasn’t ready to play with players 3 years my senior and most importantly, I wasn’t ready to sort myself out, to efficiently do what I needed to improve my play each day. After that train wreck of a season I bounced around teams and leagues, relying on my size and recommendations to land me spots. I only played a handful of games in the following years, ultimately stunting my development by two years.
For all of you trying to jump ahead, I want you all to sit down, take a breath, and not worry who’s committing where, ignore chatter regarding other goalies you played minor hockey with finding their way onto CHL teams. Sort yourself out first. Be reflective, be self-aware, and know where you are in your own on and off ice development. Finally, understand that although you may not be seeing yourself on any lists now, you may very well end up in the same spot four or five years down the road as those early bloomers, maybe even ahead.
-Jake Williams aka Jakey Pageviews