Sunday, August 10, 2014

NETMINDERS

Most netminders, even in very different sports, have similar traits and quirks. The position tended to attract those types of personalities. It was even more so for old time hockey goalies. There were a few exceptions but it was a small number in comparison.

Guardians of the goal spend way too much time alone in Mekkar’s opinion. He mentions that many have more superstitions than wizards or witches. The Arctic Warrior comments that an individual must have some mental issues and be a little crazy to be shot at over and over by a frozen, hard vulcanized rubber disc. In the old days, goalies risked their very lives to stop pucks and played the game without facial protection.

One thing the forwards and defensemen didn’t want was to be caught on a bad line change, especially in the second stanza, when the bench is further away. Leaving your own goalie deserted on the ice usually results in the unpleasant scenario of you getting the business later on.

Mekkar could somewhat relate to a netminders’ mindset since he was used at times as an emergency third goalie during practice. He was glad that he never had to play the position in a real game. Thus, Mekkar feels that many people do not fully appreciate goaltenders enough. This goes for him also, as he would sometimes forget, with his non-traditional almost always attacking style of play. That is, instead of cutting off the passing lanes during odd-man rushes by the opposition. Mekkar’s style was big risk, big reward. He wanted to mainly close the gaps of space and speed up reaction time of other players to force them into turnovers.

This meant leaving the far side of the net vulnerable by not cutting off those potential back door plays. Also, unaccounted for were open opponents trailing the play into the center of the ice for prime scoring chances on net. His mindset always expected to arrive at the right time and keep the puck from getting behind him toward the goal. There were many times that his own netminders and teammates bailed him out when he didn’t get there for the hit in time.

The young man from the Far North was fortunate to play with and against some fantastic big name goalies in his time. At times they were very displeased with his style and would later chew him out for leaving them “out to dry” by themselves for a breakaway against. Mekkar frustrated fellow teammates with style of attack which could often take make him positionally vulnerable. In Mekkar’s opinion, he would have been less successful if he adopted a more passive method of playing defense. He would tweak and modify his style a bit but decided to never completely change it altogether.

Despite the flaws in his game, many appreciated his extremely hard driving effort. No one ever criticized his no quit demeanor, no matter what the scoreboard said. The knock against Mekkar, by his detractors, was his on-ice decision making, even though he had a high hockey IQ. It appeared to some observers as though Mekkar would selfishly disregard the safe play on a too frequent basis.