Great to hear from you. I admire your passion and knowledge of the goaltending position. Finland has become one of the world leaders in the development of NHL goalies, and you deserve much credit for playing a big role in that.
Goaliepro: Kevin, first of all thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Let’s start with your view on how the game of goaltending has changed since you came up to NHL for the first time over 10 years ago?
Kevin: The game has changed since I played my first games in 1997 in many ways, including: from a physical standpoint, the average size and build of the players has increased considerably; off-ice conditioning is now VERY important ! I started lifting weights and doing plyometrics when I was 17 and at that time Sean Burke was the only established goalie I knew that lifted weights; Players started shooting the puck harder and faster as a result of their size and the new technology of their sticks; our goalie equipment changed and so did the way wore it; modern butterfly and hybrid styles were introduced and evolved; for those of us who were smart, we started working with goalie coaches in the off-season to improve our games.
Goaliepro: How have you changed you workout routines over the years? What areas are getting now more attention than in the past?
Kevin: I was always very lean and had a hard time keeping weight on, but now I’ve matured physically and weigh a muscular 212-218 lbs depending on how much I play, so my main focus is now on : cardio, core + core hips & shoulders, circuit training weight work and stretching, less plyometerics to reduce wear and tear on my joints. I’ve always been a big believer in training and feel it has played a very important role in extending my career.
Goaliepro: Was the change to new smaller size equipment big for you? How did the change affect your game?
Kevin: It was an adjustment for sure, we are so precise in our movements and sometimes a half inch means the difference between a save and a goal! 3 inches less for the catching glove was tough, as was the 1 inch less on the pads-that took time for us butterfly / hybrid goalies’ hips, knees, ankles and groins to adjust to. Remember, every butterfly inflicts 2 to 3x your body weight of force on your joints and 1 less inch means more rotation and stress on them =more injuries !!! I’ve had to be a little more aggressive and challenge shooters more to compensate for smaller gear as well.
Goaliepro: Goalies have become some of the best conditioned athletes in their teams, tell us about your conditioning regime.
Kevin: In addition to my answer for question 2 : I integrate stationary and road biking sprints and aerobic interval rides, as well as some track sprint interval programs. I also go on the ice with my goalie coach and 2 shooters for an hour several days per week in the summer, really helps also.
Goaliepro: We have heard that rebound control is one of your favorite topics in goaltending. How would you summarize the most important aspects of rebound control.
Kevin: a.Try to arrive at your spot and establish position as early as possible. b.Put yourself in the best position as far as depth /challenge based on shooter and his pass option. c.Watch the puck from the shooter’s blade all the way into your body when you make the save. d.Try to catch the puck with your glove ( I know you Finns do !!!!!!! ) and your body, as much as possible. e.Use your stick as much as possible to direct on-ice shots into corners and/or over the glass and out of play. f.Give your best effort to but remember : when guys shoot over 100 mph…it’s almost impossible to control every rebound !
Goaliepro: What is your advice to today’s young goaltenders who are dreaming about possible pro careers. How to proceed, what to focus on?
Kevin: You have to love it, be positively obsessed with it ! I knew at 6 years of age I wanted to be an NHL goalie but the dream is different to each individual, many of the same realities exist between minor/ youth hockey goalie and NHL goalies. We play in front of more people, shots are harder and get paid a little more $ LOL !!!!
Be dedicated, focused, accountable, confident, try hard EVERY on and off ice session and remember: we need the guys in front of us no matter how good we are ! Be good to your forwards and defence, recognize them and appreciate them – they’ll play harder for you and we ALL need that.
Goaliepro: You have only played in one international tournament (Spengler Cup at Switzerland 1996). Will we see Kevin Weekes at international tournaments or rinks if opportunity arises?
Kevin: I LOVED playing internationally ! The fans were passionate and the speed, creativity and tempo of the games were so exciting. I was the MVP and Goalie Of the Tournament of that 1996 Sengler Cup and I had a wonderful experience. I hope I have the opportunity to play internationally in some capacity again at some point.
Goaliepro: How do you see the game of hockey and goaltending along developing during the next few years?
Kevin: Hockey will become more skilled and creative offensively, and the players will continue to get bigger, stronger and faster ! Goalies : more of a blend between sound technically with a butterfly and/or hybrid base but blended with more athleticism.
Goaliepro: You have been working at the broadcast booth during the playoffs this season. Of course it is always hard to watch the game when you are not playing, but other than that what kind of experience has this been for you?
Kevin: It has been tough for the fact that we should still be playing, but it has been a fun experience and nice to add to my resume for another career option for when my playing days are over. I guess I’ll have to grow up and get a ’real’ job someday!
Terveisiä Finland, I hope that all the goalies, parents and coaches reading this are able to benefit from my answers and insights.