Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Barrasso and Dunham join coaching ranks

Add two notable former National Hockey League goaltenders to the coaching fraternity.

Five days ago, the Carolina Hurricanes named two-time Stanley Cup champion and 1984 Vezina Trophy winner Tom Barrasso as their new goaltending coach. Barrasso is most remembered for backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a pair of Cup titles in 1991 and 1992. He is considered one of the best American-born goaltenders to play in the NHL as he accumulated 430 career wins (61 of them in the playoffs) and was a member of the United States' mens hockey team that won a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Barrasso didn't always have the best relationship with the media, but his accomplished career definitely spoke volumes in earning the respect from many as among the best in the game. Now the Boston-native gets to teach the young and talented Hurricanes goalies what he's learned during his 19 seasons as a player. Cam Ward won his first Stanley Cup championship as a rookie in 2006 and now the 42-year-old Barrasso will get to help him move his career to a new level.

"My job is not to try to convert anybody. My job is to make them as technically sound as they can be, make them as mentally comfortable in goal as they can be so they can perform at a high level," Barrasso told Carolina Hurricanes official web site contributor David Droschak.

Another goaltender that played with Barrasso on the 2002 United States' mens hockey team was Mike Dunham. After he saw there was wasn't much interest around the league to continue his decade-long playing career, the New York Islanders named Dunham their new goaltending coach on Monday.

Interesting, it's now been back-to-back summers that we've seen an Islanders goaltender who played for them the previous season retire to join their hockey operations. Garth Snow backed up Rick DiPietro in the 2005-2006 season. Then in a move that raised eyebrows around the league, team owner Charles Wang named Snow as their new general manager, replacing the departed Mike Milbury. Snow said when he was hired to the position that it is a challenge he coveted for quite some time to take on. Dunham backed up DiPietro last season after seeing limited duty with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005-2006. Now Dunham will help DiPietro (currently Team USA's top goaltender in international competition) get him to the next level in the NHL and that is having some postseason success. Oh yeah, did I mention Wang and Snow signing DiPietro last year to that ridiculous 15-year contract extension? Talk about putting pressure on the guy to perform, geez.

The 35-year-old Dunham was just the third NHL goalie to play for all three New York metropolitan area teams. Who are the other two, you ask? John Vanbiesbrouck and Kevin Weekes. Dunham was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 1990 and played his first two seasons there before immediately being taken by the Nashville Predators in the 1998 expansion draft. He was Nashville's starting goalie for their first five seasons in the league before Dunham was traded to the New York Rangers in 2003. After the Rangers moved in a different direction with their goaltending corp, Dunham finished his 10-year run with the Thrashers and Islanders.

This week, the two goalies that backed up Mike Richter during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games will each begin a new chapter in their hockey careers as goaltending coaches. Their next challenge awaits them.

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