10 Questions with Andrew Raycroft
2003-2004 was interesting year for me personally. I was in the middle of transferring between colleges and understanding what, if any, hockey opportunities remained in front of me. While living at home in MA, I was taking classes and playing for the local college team. I have to admit I’ve never been a major Bruins fan. They’re about the only New England team I cannot get behind when my Philly teams are out.
However, 2003-2004 was a different year for the Bruins. They had Felix “The Cat” Potvin and his famed Harrison mask. As a goalie, that alone will change your tune toward the B’s. The goalie that had me watching or taping, yes literally VHS taping, all 82 games was actually a rookie goalie though. He had a sick set of 580s, played what was a modern style for the time, took the NHL by storm, and inspired me to attend Jon Elkin’s College / Junior camp. He would go on to play 13 years in the show, maintain a career GAA under 3, a save percentage at 900, and take home the Calder along the way.
This goalie is Andrew Raycroft and I had to fortune of interviewing him a couple of weeks ago. Although I initially expected to fire away with the tough questions like “Why did you take the toe caps off your 580s?” or “Why did you switch to Koho after wearing Heaton in Junior and A?”, I found myself comfortable just chatting with him.
He is extremely down to earth and even keeled. The type of demeanor you’d want to rub off on a goalie… Which is perfect, part of Andrew’s post playing career is working with Brian Daccord at Stop It Goaltending.
How often did you change gear and was it a big deal?
Looking back, I probably should have tried more new things. I think that I was always afraid to take 1 step backward to take 2 steps forward. As example, I should have switched gloves earlier. I was afraid to make the switch in Toronto and eventually switched to the older style Koho (580) in Colorado. I found I could catch the puck much easier. During the lockout, I took my Kohos to Finland instead of brand new RBKs. The RBKs were great pads, but I was just more used to Kohos. When the NHL started back up, I was never quite acclimated to the new RBK setup.
I also should have done the big knee pads while I was over in Europe or earlier in my career. I made the change in Vancouver or Denver? They keep you safer, help you make saves, and protect your bodyweight from itself. They really close up the 5 hole.
After Wearing Heaton in the OHL and AHL, why the switch to Koho?
I actually wore TPS for my first year of Junior because they had a contract with the CHL. After that ended, I switched to Heaton. That became CCM. After my 3rd year pro, it was about getting big. Everyone who wore the Koho stuff looked big. I decided it was a change I had to make because you had to look big to stay in the NHL. Mike Sullivan was my coach in Providence and moved up to the Bruins that year. I remember him asking me in camp what had changed to make me look so much bigger
Did you ever think about going away from the Koho / RBK / Reebok Lefevre gear?
I tried the Nike / Bauer stuff one summer. It just felt too different from the Reebok’s. I never liked to make changes that felt different.
For me, it was important to get [the gear] right. It was always important that it needed to feel right. I could try something right away and figure out if I could change to it. I didn’t really tinker.
Once gear was soft, I needed it changed right away. I got new gear pretty often. I played with Kari [Lehtonen] and he only went through 1 set all year.
I wore the Bauer stuff in Europe because of a team contract. Everything with that whole experience was different. I didn’t worry too much about the gear then.
Why did you take the toe caps off your 580 pads and tie the boot closer together?
That toe mod was something I did with the Heatons, so I did it on the Kohos. The Kohos just felt too big at first. I didn’t really want to try and change too much going from the Heatons to the Kohos.
What are your thoughts on gear today?
I would have done anything to have Velcro straps. I would have done anything to get all that time back from doing up the straps. I would have 5 full days back. When I saw Bobrovsky the other day, I instantly noticed the no straps.
I don’t love the all-white gear. Rinne looked sick in all the blue. Subban also looked great in the full colors. I always still like the look for the CCMs.
The options companies give you now is endless too. Guys can really dial in the set ups. At the NHL level, guys need every inch of support the can get.
What goalies do you enjoy watching now?
I love Price. He always has a clean kit. His moves are so smooth.
Speaking of other goalies, I can guess Potvin may have been an Idol of yours as a kid growing up around TO. What was it like being on a team with him?
Oh yeah, everyone had his gear, his stance, and the gloves were facing the roof. You can’t do that stuff anymore. Guys have to be so good now that you can’t away with the unique stances.
He is really an amazing guy though. He really mentored me and helped my career. It was awesome being on a team with him.
What about goalie coaches, how have those impacted you?
Jon [Elkin] is a good friend of mine. Everything we did meant a lot to my career. At the NHL level, Clarky [Ian Clark] really was one of the best that I had.
What was that Calder season like? Do you visualize coming into the league like that?
Winning in the pros was just organic. It was never predicted or planned. Everything I thought about was never having 3 bad games. That was my mindset because 3 bad games meant getting sent down. I was also fortunate to land with great a team in a great situation.
Do you still strap the pads on anymore?
I play for the Bruins Alumni team now. We have about 30 dates and I try do 15 of them. I actually play forward now. I am on a line with Reggie Lemlin. I have played goal a couple times like in the Winter Classic game.
What are you working on post playing career?
I live in Boston now with my family and kids. I have known Brian [Daccord] for 22 years. I work for his bridge academy. I am there 3-4 days a week and help with kids on and off the ice.
I am also the executive director of the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education. This was started by Brian and it’s a really cool initiative. We are trying to set up a few scholarships to help goalies get going that are less fortunate. We also work on topics to help educate the parents, like coping with 50 other goalies at a summer tryout. We have a symposium coming up soon. This will target the parents of goalies ranging in age from 11-15.
I do some of the Bruin’s games on NESN [New England TV network for Bruins] as well. I recently got on Twitter at the suggestion of Hal Gill and NESN. I'm hoping to be more of a media person and Twitter is a great way to grow an audience.