There’s this long-standing tradition in the NHL where coaches don’t reveal the starting goalie on game day. Before the New York Islanders faced the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, head coach Barry Trotz told the assembled press that a Russian-born goalie will start for the Isles.
Semyon Varlamov was born in Samara, Russia while Ilya Sorokin was born in Mezdurechensk, Russia. Yes, technically Varlamov was born before the berth of the Russian Federation, but I doubt Barry Trotz is playing geopolitical mind games to reveal his starter.
I know it’s cute and fun to hear Barry play these games but this is something that needs to stop. Because there’s just no value in the practice.
Keeping the New York Islanders starting goalie secret helps no one
Thankfully not every coach takes this approach anymore. Rangers coach David Quinn and Flyers coach Alain Vigneault both revealed their starting goalies ahead of their games tonight.
Which begs the question why does Barry Trotz do it? What is the benefit to the Islanders by not revealing who the starting goalie is on a give game day?
Does withholding that information really throw off the opposition coach’s preparations for game-day? Will Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger rally his troops when the truth is finally revealed to totally change the game plan?
Of course not. Krueger and his staff will have prepared for either Varlamov or Sorokin going in nets. So while this gives a cute and fun sound bite for the media it keeps fans guessing and gamblers fuming.
For gamblers, not knowing who starts in a net is a big issue. He may not score goals, but the goaltender is the most important position in the game. A strong goalie can sway the line in favor of his team while a bad goalie can have the opposite effect.
Maybe you aren’t a sports gambler, so maybe this doesn’t matter much to you, but gamblers are an important factor for the league and revenues. ESPN reported that league revenues could increase by $216 million because of gamblers.
For a league short on revenue streams even in non-COVID times, making sure they maximize gambling revenues is important. Stopping this antiquated practice of keeping the starting goalie secret until puck drop is a must.