Goalie School Guru Preaches On, Off Ice

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by Jeffrey Reed, LondonOntarioSports.com

Former NHL goaltender Steve McKichan of Strathroy may be the best quote among all local sports personalities since Glenn Johnston retired as coach of the Fanshawe Falcons men’s basketball program.

Johnston was a beauty, always ready with a clever quip. Upon spotting this scribe – then a cub reporter with Radio Fanshawe – with a heavily-taped ankle following an intramural basketball game, Johnston said, “What’s the matter, Scoop, drop your tape recorder on your foot?”

hockey1Enter McKichan, who for 24 years has operated Future Pro Goalie School, a new tenant at Western Fair Sportsplex. He was drafted out of Miami University (Ohio) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1988 NHL Supplemental Draft, and played one game with the Canucks in the 1990–91 season. After suffering a career-ending neck injury that season while playing with the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League, McKichan used his teaching degree and rink savvy and started his first summer camp for goalies in Ilderton in 1992.

He was the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach from 2004 to ’08, and today works with goalies in the NHL, OHL, colleges and minor hockey. McKichan’s school employs about 30 area students, and boasts a crack staff of teaching professionals who, like him, have impressive resumes on and off the ice.

McKichan, 47, is as sharp as a skate blade. That has helped his Future Pro Goalie School become the most popular personally-delivered program of its type in North America. With annual revenues of $1.5 million and 20 locations in Canada and the U.S., the school trains about 1,500 goalies each year.

Now, at Western Fair District, more than 700 netminders will train in London, including 600 from across North American, Asia and Russia, during a six-week summer program. Future Pro Goalie School counts about 30 per cent of the OHL’s netminders as students, and has partnered with the London Knights.

“Over the past 20 years, I’ve had too many great memories and too much fun,” said McKichan. “My students have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, coaches, teachers, parents and even NHL goaltenders. I have worked with little guys who can’t hold their stick, and Hall of Famers who could – sometimes over the course of the same day.”

Talk about the woes of the current Maple Leafs, and prepare for an inside scoop on the trials and tribulations at Air Canada Centre.

hockey2“There is this massive myth that Toronto is just happy because they fill the building and make money, and they are (content) losing. The problem with that argument is, every single person they bring in, whether it is (team president, former London Knight and Hockey Hall of Famer) Brenden Shanahan, (former Leafs boss) Brian Burke, (former coaches) Pat Quinn and Paul Maurice, myself – whoever it is – from a coaching personality are Type A personalities. It is ingrained in our blood that the last thing we are is just happy to make the playoffs, or lose and fill the building.

“I always chuckle at people who firmly believe that the Leafs (lose) because they don’t care. It’s a disingenuous argument,” said McKichan. “Once the TV lights come on, they’re never half-assing it or giving 98 per cent. Players at that level, the switch is either on or off. I am sure there are some guys in big contracts that don’t (care) anymore, but I think everybody who is a salt-of-the-earth Type A player wants to try their best, whether they are playing in Toronto or in Florida.

“But I don’t know (why the Leafs continue to lose). I can’t put my finger on it,” said McKichan.

One thing McKichan is sure of is that today’s youth are better served playing multiple sports, rather than just concentring between the pipes.

“I think kids today do specialize to their detriment,” he said. “They should be playing lacrosse, golf, taking lessons in other sports which translates into a big package that gives you an action athlete. The concentration elements and compartmentalization of golf, for example – not worrying about your last bad shot, which can translate directly into being a goalie.

“When you are only focused on hockey, you lose some of the valuable athletic lessons you get from other sports.”

Strathroy’s loss is certainly London’s gain, as McKichan talks the talk and walks the walk – on and off the ice.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office https://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com. Sports journalist since 1980.

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