New York Rangers |  Halak is still there, 16 years later

New York Rangers | Halak is still there, 16 years later

The presentation of the visiting team’s players, before the game at the Bell Center, rarely elicits strong reactions. The most common: applause, well circumscribed in one stretch, when a player from Quebec is announced, as we heard Thursday after Alexandre Carrier was announced among the Predators’ starting six.


Sometimes a star player will be booed. Former Canadians, they, provoke variable reactions.

On 5 January, the mention of the name of Jaroslav Halak, announced as Rangers’ starting goalkeeper, drew applause. The next day the Rangers trained at Brossard. It was an opportunity to ask him how it feels to continue to be acclaimed, 13 years after his departure. His face lights up.

“I didn’t hear it because I was in the locker room! But it’s nice to see that even after all these years, people still remember me. is special ”

Halak did not have to bend over backwards to sign 289me professional victory. The Habs shot just 18 times that night as the Rangers won 4-1.

“It’s still weird playing in Montreal,” he admits. Press. The most important are the two points. And you never know when you will play your last game on this field. Who knows ? Maybe it was my last game at the Bell Centre. Maybe the next game here, the coach will send the other goalkeeper. I will be 38 in four months. Health is the most important. »


PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Jaroslav Halak had a breakout run in the playoffs in 2010.

among the deans

The Canadian and the Rangers will resume late Sunday afternoon, this time at Madison Square Garden. It is not yet known who – Halak or Igor Shesterkin – will be the starter.

But the mere fact that Halak is in this conversation is surprising in itself. There are only three goaltenders older than him in the NHL this season: Craig Anderson, Marc-André Fleury and Brian Elliott. But most of all, he’s part of an endangered species: keepers under 6 feet. He is 5’11, the same height as Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators) and Alex Stalock (Chicago Blackhawks).

No goalkeeper is smaller than them. And the trend will continue, as only one goaltender under 6′ has been selected in the last three drafts.

This is what brings us back to the famous phrase “Below 6 foot 2, you don’t even look at it”, often heard from recruiters or even agents looking for future clients.

“I have been told about my height for 20 years. Ever since my draft year they told me he was too young, that he would never make it to the National League, he recalls. And I’m still here. People often ask me if I would like to be 6’3, 6’4. I don’t know. Maybe at that point, he would never have played in the NHL. »

If I had listened to what people say about my size, I would never have played hockey and I don’t know what I would have done for a living.

jaroslav halak

He continues: “If you’re a sub-6-footer, you have to play to your strengths and try to maximize your size, play big. I see 6-foot-5 goalies playing small. And I see 6-foot guards who look big because their stance is different. »

Halak cites Roland Melanson and Marc Champagne as the people who helped him the most to overcome his handicap. The first supported him in organizing the Canadian, as well as in the summer camps organized by the Octagon agency. Meanwhile, Champagne first worked with Halak in Lewiston and was hired as the Islanders’ goaltending coach when the Slovak joined the team in 2014.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY MARC CHAMPAGNE

Jaroslav Halak with Marc Champagne

“I told him to play in front of the paint, to play big and compete,” Champagne details. She had the knife between her teeth and she demonstrated it in Montreal. That was it, your wow factor.

“I had goalies who couldn’t make the saves at 6-foot-4,” Champagne continues. Will you fight to make your worked, or just hope the puck hits you? Samuel Montembeault, fight, Saros too. If you don’t compete, you’ll lose your greatness pretty quickly. »


PHOTO ANDRE PICHETTE, PRESS ARCHIVE

Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak in 2010 with the Montreal Canadiens

More durable than the price

In 2010, Pierre Gauthier ended the series surrounding his goalkeepers by trading Halak to the Blues, thus confirming Carey Price’s goalkeeping status for the future.

We haven’t kept in touch, but we greet each other when we meet. It’s sad that I don’t play anymore. It’s his knee, isn’t it? It would have been nice to see him back on the ice.

jaroslav halak

Coexistence between two goalkeepers at the beginning of their career “is not always easy,” he agrees. “We were both trying to make a name for ourselves. We pushed each other, we challenged each other. But it helped me take the next step. They traded me, I had a chance to be number 1 in St. Louis. He played many games in Montreal. I have played for many teams. I guess it worked for both of us! »

Since the trade, Price has played in 651 games (including playoffs), compared to Halak’s 484. Price won a Hart Trophy, a Vezina and led the Canadians to three Stanley Cup victories in 2021. We’ll never know if he could have done it in 2014 as well.

Except Halak will have been the more durable of the two, in number of years played, despite all the apprehensions about his size. The factors are many, but its longevity is not trivial.


#York #Rangers #Halak #years

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