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Beyond The Benches w/ Calgary Flames Goalie Coach Jordan Sigalet
- Updated: November 6, 2014
The Calgary Flames were looking for a new goaltending coach, and who got the call? It was none other then Jordan Sigalet. The 33-year-old has spent the last few seasons as the goaltending coach in the AHL with the Abbortsford Heat in addition to the time he spent with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips years prior. Sigalet was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during his collegiate career at Bowling Green University, however he did not let that stop him. Sigalet was drafted 209th overall by the Boston Bruins in 2001 and spent three seasons playing with the Providence Bruins before heading overseas. Sigalet made the jump to coaching and is now out to prove to people that he belongs at the NHL level.
In between his busy schedule Sigalet was able to take some time to answer some questions on his current position for Beyond The Benches below.
Beyond The Benches: With this being your first season as the goalie coach with the Calgary Flames, did you have to prepare for this season any differently then previous years?
Jordan Sigalet: Being my first year in the NHL I did not have to make too many changes going into the season, I always like to stick to what I feel has made me successful as a coach at other levels so there was no need to making any drastic changes to my coaching philosophy.The biggest changes for me I had to make was moving and getting settled in Calgary, building relationships with the staff in Calgary and getting prepared for Training Camp. I was hired pretty late in the summer and normally would be going into camp as our Goaltender Development Coach under Clint Malarchuk so there was a lot more on my plate this year for camp.
BTB: The Flames are out to a good start this season sitting in third place in the Pacific Division, how would you assess the play of your two goalies so far this season?
JS: It has been nice to get off to a good start so far this season as it has not only given our goalies confidence but our whole team. I have been very pleased with the way Jonas and Karri have handled themselves so far this season, they both want the net but both support each other and want to see one another win and have success. The bottom line is that they have given us a chance to win every game so far in the early part of the season.
BTB: We’re you familiar with either Jonas Hiller or Kari Ramo before working with them this season?
JS: I was familiar with Karri before the season started as I had been around him in training camp the prior season so I got to know him and watch him quite a bit during that time. I also got to see him quite a bit when I was playing in the Boston Bruins system as we played them quite often in the AHL. As for Jonas, I had also played against him when I was in Providence but it was starting a relationship from scratch with him which started with some phone calls over the summer after I was hired.
BTB: What are a few day-to-day things you like to work on with your goalies?
JS: For me I stick to a pretty consistent schedule from day-to-day with my goalies, a lot of it depends on what our schedule is like and who will be starting the games that week. I always take the goalies along with a couple shooters on the ice 20 minutes early after they do their team dynamic warm-up. I always start with some easy movement drills and then get them tracking the puck right away to warm-up their eyes and hands. I always like to do a drill or two afterwards that allows them to face certain situations that they don’t get to see in practice very often but they will see in games. By doing this I feel they are more comfortable by the game times. This let’s them have consistency in their approach to certain situations which comes with repetition and muscle memory.
BTB: You were drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2001, tell us what that experience was like for you?
JS: Being drafted was a very special time in my life and one I will never forget. It was more special to me because it kind of came as a surprise out of nowhere. I had just finished playing my second year of Tier-II Junior hockey for the Victoria Salsa of the BCHL and was already committed to a scholarship at Bowling Green State University. Our team in Victoria had a great run in the playoffs and went as an underdog team to winning the BCHL championship that season, when the last Central Scouting Rankings came out at the end of the season I was one of the last ranked North American Goalies. I didn’t have any high expectations to be drafted as I know there are many goalies past over every year so I didn’t have my hopes up and did not go to Florida for the draft that summer. I just sat at home and kept refreshing my screen round by round and when my phone rang it was management from Boston telling me they had just picked me in the 7th round. It is a feeling I can’t explain and it was even more special as Boston was my favorite team growing up as a kid.
BTB: Having dealt with MS yourself, what were your thoughts when you heard about Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding coming out saying he also has Multiple Sclerosis?
JS: It really impacted me hard when I first heard about Josh’s diagnosis. It brought back a lot of memories of my own diagnosis and made everything real for me again. At the same time I know how alone and scared I felt when I was diagnosed so I knew I wanted to reach out to be a pillar for him to lean on if he needed but at the same time didn’t want to over step my boundaries.
BTB: Since you reached out to Harding when he first revealed he also has Multiple Sclerosis, have you been able to develop a relationship with him and provide that extra support that you might not have originally had?
JS: The first thing I wanted to do when he was diagnosed was reach out and show my support. I’ll never forget how alone you feel when you here the words “You have Multiple Sclerosis.” I first reached out to Josh by a simple text message expressing that if he ever needed anything or wanted to talk that I was there for him and we have slowly built a relationship since that day. I know how hard it can be when all people want to do is talk about your MS and ask how you are feeling so when we talk it is usually not MS related at all.
BTB: What are two things you would say to any prospective goalie trying to reach the NHL level?
JS: My two biggest things I would say to any goalie trying to reach the NHL would be to trust the process, everyone has a different path. I played with Tim Thomas In Providence and Boston and always use him as a great example. Secondly, continually work on your game, there is always an area of your game you can improve on or refine.
BTB: What do you think the biggest challenge is to your job and how do you overcome it?
JS: The biggest challenge to my job is my lack of experience at this level. There were a lot of doubters when I was hired because of this so it is just continuing to work hard and prove the doubters wrong, which was something I had to do during my playing career especially after being diagnosed with MS. I have always said there is only one way to get experience and its to be given a chance which I am grateful that the Flames organization believed in me and gave me the chance.
BTB: Coaching is a very tough career path, what do you do outside the rink to relax?
JS: People always ask how I deal with the stress of the job. To me I enjoy the pressure. I love to win so if there was no stress or pressure to win I wouldn’t find very much satisfaction and love to do this job like I do now. I am a big music buff so anytime I am on the plane or bus I’ll always listen to music while I do video.
BTB: If you weren’t working in hockey, what would you be doing instead?
JS: I went to BGSU and earned a degree in Computer Animation with the intention to one day work at EA Sports and design the sports video games with my focus obviously being on the hockey game. It is something I would still be interested in down the road and would be a great way to stay involved with the sport once again.
BTB: Take us inside a game day, what is your typical day like?
JS: My game day routine is very consistent I find it really important to be consistent in the way you do things both as a player and as a coach. This helps not only yourself be consistent and get in a rhythm but also your goalies. I always get to the rink at 6:30 a.m. on the day of a home game which gives me time to watch the NHL games from the night before and break down all of the goals. If we played the night before I will have all my clips for my goalie who played to show once he arrives at the rink. When I do my clips I always have every save, scoring chance, puck play, goal against and a whole teaching category on areas of the game which I’d like to see some adjustments or improvements. I will then take the ice at 10:00 a.m. with the goalies and go through our warm-up routine before morning skate starts at 10:30 a.m. At the end of morning skate I will get a little extra work for the goalie who is not starting so that he can work on his game but at the same time don’t keep him too long in case he has to come into the game that night. After morning skate I always head home from 1-3 p.m. I thinks it is refreshing to get away from the rink for those couple hours and regroup. I head back to the rink at 3:30 p.m. and put together video of the opposing goalie and put it on the screen in the dressing room for our players to see, this includes the goaltenders strengths, weaknesses and shootout tendencies. I also post a pre-scout that includes ever goal that the opposing goalie has let in over the past two seasons with all the shot and goal locations mapped out. During the game I sit in the press-box and track all shots, scoring chances and goals for and against for our goalie and the opposition goalie which gives me a good library on each goaltender in the league by the end of the year. Post game I will always go into see my goalie and talk about the game. I never go in the room in between periods as I am a strong believer that you do your coaching and teaching on the ice and before the games not while the game is underway.
BTB: What are three mistakes you see consistently in goaltenders that you wish you could fix?
JS: The biggest thing I see with goaltenders that are easy fixes that could improve their game would be first vision. I think a lot of goalies get puck focused especially younger goalies. I always stress to have good eyes and early eyes, it is no different then crossing the street you always look both ways before you cross. The better you are with your eyes and the more you know before you push or slide the better chance you are going to have to arrive square, early and have good lines on the puck by knowing where players are and what shot hand they are. Next, upper body control because I find a lot of goalies have very noisy hands in their recoveries which causes them to push flat or reach for a lot of pucks. I always have my goalies focus on their upper body control especially their hands as it keeps the in control and compact on the save. Finally, depth because I always see goalies that struggle with their depth management especially off of the rush. This goes hand in hand with their vision as goalies with good hockey sense and on ice awareness are always great at reading the play and adjusting their depth accordingly.
BTB: Describe your perfect goaltender, who would it be and why?
JS: My perfect goaltender is one with great work ethic and desire to get better and improve on their game. I am a strong believer that you can’t teach hard work, if you work hard it doesn’t matter what style or skill set you have you already have the base to be successful.
BTB: If you could have dinner with three people in the hockey industry, who would they be?
JS: Cam Neely, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
(Photo Credit: Abbortsford Heat)