The goalie whisperer  | North Bay Nugget

Todd Robillard continues to churn out top flight goaltending talent from North Bay

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Many pro goaltenders and major junior goaltenders from North Bay say without Todd Robillard they would not be where they are.

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Robillard has coached goalies in the city for years.  We caught up with him late last week as he is on the staff of Matt Marquardt’s Complete Hockey Training summer hockey camp.

Robillard has worked with goalies like Ken Appleby, a Memorial Cup winner with Oshawa and currently a member of the New York Islanders’ farm team in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

He has also trained Ben Gaudreau, a San Jose Shark draftee, currently in Calgary at a Team Canada World Junior summer camp.

Robillard is humble to a fault when asked what makes one a good goalie coach.

“You need to break down skills properly. You need to be able to relate to goalies.  It is one thing to have all the knowledge, but you must impart that to the kids in a way they can understand it.”

Robillard says his personal background aids in coaching young goaltenders.

“I think being a parent and a teacher helps (coach). You are always explaining things to kids at lower (age) levels then it is easier to pass that along to the kids when they are older as they have already learned (lessons) when they were younger.”

Robillard was a goalie “and not a very good one” he adds.

His coaching resume is better and Robillard says all good coaches need to stay ahead of the curve.

“I have learned that you never, ever are the smartest guy.  You are always chasing the next piece of information you are always trying to stay up with the new trends.”

Robillard says hockey and goaltending has really changed.

“I remember early on, teaching glove positioning with the palm (of the trapper) straight up. If you go back and look at pictures of (former NHL goaltenders) like Felix Potvin and Jocelyn Thibault, that is the way that it was. We used to teach stick and skate saves like Billy Ranford did (former NHL goalie).  The two-pad stack (save technique) was a staple when we started coaching, you see none of that now. So, a lot of it is keeping up with today’s trends, talking to other good goalie coaches and getting feedback from players at the higher levels.”

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Robillard says you need to sort the good intel from the not-so-good.

“There is a lot of good information out there but there is a lot of bad stuff too, so you try to find guys that you trust and chat with them.”

Appleby has chatted about goaltending with Robillard for nearly a decade.

The North Bay native has played in three NHL games and almost 100 in the American Hockey League.

Appleby says Robillard, the person, is just as impressive as Robillard the coach.

“It is just Todd, he is a great guy with a great attitude. He makes you work hard, and he demands hard work from you. He likes to have fun and make sure you are having fun. That is what his secret is, that is what I loved about him when he started working with me back in my minor midget days. You can still see it to this day working with little kids and older kids (too), it is still fun for everyone.”

Marquardt runs this camp, as well, he is the Western Hockey League coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

He is thrilled with Robillard working with the goalies.

“He is a good person, he is a goalie guru, he doesn’t do it for attention, he genuinely cares for the kids and the players that he coaches. The proof is in the puddling.”

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