Who doesn't love Switzerland?
Editor's Note: A special thanks to Kevin Woodley and David Hutchison of InGoal Magazine for facilitating this interview with James Reimer, Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions on the site.
InGoal Magazine and Pension Plan Puppets teamed up to delve into the world of the Toronto Maple Leafs puck-stopping prospects and there were some interesting revelations as a result.
Topping the list in today's Part 1 of a two-part series (Part 2 will appear at InGoalmag.com Wednesday) was a previously undiscovered bond between Ben Scrivens, Switzerland and legendary Leafs goalie guru Francois Allaire, and how it played a role in him signing in Toronto.
We caught up with Marlies goaltenders Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas and James Reimer, who was demoted by the Maple Leafs Friday and arrived on the ice midway through Saturday's afternoon practice - just in time to catch up for a post-practice interview for InGoal's article on how his NHL success affirmed everything he's been working on with Francois Allaire, and to take part in this question-and-answer session.
Don't forget to go to InGoalmag.com Wednesday for Part 2. It includes revelations about Rynnas and his history in net, which is unique by Finnish standards and should give every beer league goalie hope.
Bower Power: There was a lot made about Burke and the Leafs bringing in so many goaltending prospects so quickly - Jonas Gustavsson, Rynnas, and Scrivens all in a little over a year, with Reimer already in the pipeline. Why did you choose to sign with Toronto with young goaltenders already in the system, and what is your plan to jump up that depth chart a little quicker (especially Scrivens, the last to sign on to the team)?
Ben Scrivens: "I'm going to say it's about 95 per cent about Frankie [Francois Allaire]. He's worked with a lot of French Canadian goalies and a lot of European guys now so I guess I might be a little different being Western Canadian. But also the organization as a whole is nothing but first class, so that was a huge bonus and a huge reason I was leaning towards Toronto. They bring in only character guys - Frankie being one of them - and I felt it was going to be a good situation for me to develop and a good situation where I was going to get at least a fair shake at things. And I'm not disappointed by my decision at all. I only signed a one-year deal so things could change drastically over the summer. I hope thy don't, but I am at this point extremely grateful they took a chance on me and hopefully I can repay them in kind."
Follow-up From Bower Power: We probably all know about the history of Jonas Gustavsson working with Allaire in Sweden, and the role that played in choosing the Leafs - and for that matter the role working with him at his annual Swiss summer camps played in Anaheim getting Jonas Hiller ahead of 16 other NHL offer, and Martin Gerber before that - but did you have a history with him before signing?
Ben Scrivens: "I started with Frankie in between my junior and senior year [at Cornell]. I went to a camp in Switzerland with him. The hockey world is a small world. What happened was my roommate in
college, his name was Justin Krueger and his dad is Ralph Krueger, who is now the assistant coach of the Edmonton Oilers and was formerly the had coach of the Swiss National Team, and he coached Jonas Hiller,
David Aebischer, and Martin Gerber, who are all some of Frankie's boys. So what happened is obviously I had heard a lot about Frankie, he's a guy you want to work with, and I was extremely fortunate that Ralph put in a good word for me and I was also fortunate that one of the guys who was supposed to be in - because the camp was already full - I think he got hurt or traded but for some reason a spot opened up a month before
"So I was able to head over there for a week and work with him and it was great. I soaked as much as I could up and took notes and stuff while I was there so I could come back and remember it at school and not midway through the season be like 'what did we learn that second day about wraparounds?' So I think that was huge to have that sort of technical refresher during the summer that I could help implement, especially during my senior year because I knew it was my last kick at it and I was going to have to have a good one to get any interest from
some NHL teams."
Bower Power: In the same vein, what kind of atmosphere is that fostering around the three (or four) of you?
Jussi Rynnas: "I think it's only a good thing for everyone in the whole organization because we see that Reims can play there and I think of course that I can play there too. And of course I want to do what Reims did and play in the NHL. I hope. I hope. If it isn't this year, then maybe next year, so it's only a good thing."
Birky: All players go through slumps. For goalies, those periods seem to be magnified far more than for skaters. What do you do to combat or deal with a slump in your play?
James Reimer: "I think the key is just not changing anything. Slumps and hot streaks are extremely similar in characteristics, they are just on different sides of the spectrum and if you focus on either one it's going to affect you in a bad way. If you focus on it when you are hot you are going to sink a bit because you aren't focused on the
puck. And if you focus on it when you are in a slump, same thing and you are just going to keep slumping. So I just try and stay even keeled and focus on small increments. That helped (during this recent call up) with all the questions about whether I was going to stick around because anything can happen, and as soon as you win a couple of games then - and Ron (Wilson) said it best - it's like you are going for the Vezina. And Francois always tells me too to stay even keeled and answer questions and then forget about it."
not norm ullman: Why, in the name of all that is holy, did you decide to become a goalie?
Ben Scrivens: "When I was young playing Tom Thumb hockey everyone had their turn in net and you would rotate and for some reason I liked it. I wasn't all that good at playing forward. Everyone scored like 50 goals that year and I think I got three, so I wasn't all that gifted offensively, and I just kind of enjoyed goal and took to it. And then when I was about novice age that's when I started to do it full time, or at least rotate with one other guy. It was pretty much right form a young age I was making my way to the net."
Birky: You guys go up against your teammates in practice everyday. Which Marlie makes you pay attention whenever he has the puck? By that I mean, which guy makes you hold your breath or your heart skip a beat when he gets the puck in a scoring position?
Jussi Rynnas: "I think (Dale) Mitchell has a great shot, and (Brayden) Irwin has a great shot and (Mike) Zigomanis has a great shot. There is many guys that has good shots. In practice here every shot is testing goalie a lot more. In Finland coach says take every shot like almost from blue line, and here every guy from first shot to last shot is
almost like breakaway. But I think it is really good you have to fight every shot and you can't just be there. Every time you have to make a good save. I think it's only good for a goalie."
happiergilmore: What do good players do to make it hard for a goaltender to tell whether they will pass or shoot on 2-on-1? Same question but whether they will deke or shoot on a breakaway?
Jussi Rynnas: "On 2-on-1 it's like where he keep the puck. If he is like this (holds an imaginary stick out, well away from his body) you know he can shot. But if he is like this (puts hands closer to body) it is more probably a pass. I try to read the stick blade too on both but you can't always because it's so fast. On breakaway I try to come like out and then back in same speed as him, but sometimes he is going so fast you can't but I try to. If you know there is a guy who has a great shot like Mitchell you know almost every time he try to make great shot like here (holds his glove hand up higher)."