BROSSARD – Another piece of the Canadiens’ puzzle has fallen into place. The Habs have named Stephane Waite as their new goaltending coach.
Only a few weeks after hoisting his second Stanley Cup in three years with the Blackhawks, Waite is leaving the position he’s held with the Chicago franchise for the last decade and making his way to Montreal.
“When you’re in the same place for 10 years and you win two Stanley Cups, the obvious move isn’t to leave. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such a great organization, and today, being able to join a new organization that’s just as prestigious – if not more – is truly unbelievable for me,” shared Waite, a few hours after the Canadiens officially announced his hiring. “It really came down to a decision of family. The timing was perfect for me and my family to make our way back to Montreal. It wasn’t a question of money at all. It’s a great challenge and a bright future here. This is a team with fantastic goaltenders.”
While he admits he still hasn’t had much time to fully analyze the intricacies of his new charges, the Habs’ new goaltending coach already seems to know the direction he plans to take.
“I have a bit of an idea of where I want to go with Carey Price. I’m not planning on making any big changes. He’s already a good goaltender – one of the best in the league. It’s not like he needs to make changes from A to Z. He’s got a lot of excellent qualities and we’re going to work on things together,” explained Waite, who has notably worked with netminders Corey Crawford, Antti Niemi and Nikolai Khabibulin, as well as many others. “I won’t just be working with them on a technical level. We’ll be looking at the mental side of things as well, like how to react after a bad goal or a bad game. It’s important to look at what happens afterwards.”
Waite’s comments are certainly enough to give Price and Peter Budaj a notion of the coaching style they can expect to be working under for the 2013-14 season. One thing they can be sure of is that their new coach will have a smile on his face as they begin to build their relationship.
“I believe very strongly in positive reinforcement. My videos are always made up of 70% things that they’re doing well and 30% things that need to be adjusted. They need to see that they’re doing things right, and it’s usually a good boost to their confidence,” said Waite, who will be bringing over 30 years of experience as a goaltending coach and consultant to the Canadiens organization. “I like goalies that are technically very sound, like Carey, but I also like it when a goalie knows how to get away from that technique and work off instinct when he needs to. Too many goalies in the league right now are too concerned with technique. It’s a matter of balance and being in control – not too aggressive, but not too passive either.”
With the ink still fresh on his new three-year contract with the Habs, Waite will have plenty of time to make an impression on Montreal’s netminders and has no doubts about their potential for success.
“What I’m sure of, is that the talent is all there. Carey Price is a winner. He’s already proved it in the past and he’s going to prove it again,” he added. “The coaching staff that I’m joining here knows what it takes to win, and that’s what we’re going to do – we’re going to win.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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