EL SEGUNDO, CA — One can easily point to better scouting resulting in improved outcomes on draft day as a significant reason that, for the first time in the history of the franchise, goaltending is a strength throughout the Los Angeles Kings’ system.
That said, it is no coincidence that once Bill Ranford took over as goaltending coach on July 10, 2006, the Kings, who were once the laughingstock of the National Hockey League when it came to developing goalies, are now developing solid goaltenders who could keep the Kings loaded in goal for the foreseeable future.
One look at Ranford’s credentials speaks volumes about the reasons for his success, compared to that of his predecessors, Andy Nowicki and Don Edwards.
Edwards, served as the Kings assistant coach (he was responsible for the goaltenders), for four seasons, from 1995-96 to 1999-2000. He played ten seasons in the NHL, with Buffalo, Calgary and Toronto, and won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best netminder in 1979-80, but never won the Stanley Cup.
Nowicki, who coached Kings goalies for four seasons from 2001-02 to 2005-06, never played in the NHL.
In stark contrast, Ranford played 16 seasons in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 and again in 1990. That season, he was also named as the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.
Although what a player does on the ice is not always a major factor in what they might bring to coaching later on, Ranford’s experience, especially being a two-time Stanley Cup Champion (as a player), has been a big part of the turnaround in goaltending throughout the Kings’ system.
Just don’t expect him to bask in the glory.
“It’s easy for Kim [Dillabaugh, who handles goaltender development for the Kings] and myself to take credit, but it’s the goalies who do the work,” said Ranford. “We just try to push the buttons, I guess that’s the best way to put it. We have an expectation of hard work and attention to detail. We try to find the goalies who have the demeanor and the mindset to work that way.”
What might surprise many is that, hard work and attention to detail, not the technical aspects of goaltending, are what Ranford is mostly focused on.
“I’m not an overly technical guy,” he noted. “If there’s a technical deficiency, then yeah, you attack it. But I’m more about detail and work ethic. That’s the approach Kim and I [have taken] since we took over here eight years ago.”
“My philosophy is simple, from a technical standpoint, and I say this all the time,” he added. “If things that you’re doing are costing us hockey games, I will step in and change them. Other than that, I’m just working with—it’s like a piece of clay. You’re just trying to mold it, and make it better.”
Ranford stressed that molding goaltenders into his own image of what a goaltender should be is not the idea.
“If you look at the goalies who have gone through here, the only cookie cutter parts of the LA Kings goalies that I look at are attention to detail and work habits,” said Ranford. “There’s been a blend of [Jonathan] Quick, the athletic, [Jonathan] Bernier, the stand-up kind of a blend, Jeff Zatkoff, a little bit more butterfly. So there’s been a huge variance of how guys hold their stick, how deep they are in their stance.”
“We don’t believe in a cookie cutter goalie, but whenever we bring in a new goalie, the first thing we talk about are habits and detail,” added Ranford. “First thing. We don’t even look at technical. We don’t even start there.”
Ranford indicated that talking with Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt validated his thinking.
“I met with the pitching coach of the Dodgers this summer, and the thing he always talked about was starting from the bottom—just basic habits with their pitchers, and they don’t even look at technical,” he said.
“They start with habits, and once they get the habits to where they need [to be], then they start looking at little, tiny details of what they do,” he added. “That’s when I figured Kim and I were heading in the right direction [in terms of] how we approach our guys.”
Video Interviews With Bill Ranford via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
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