NEWARK, NJ Bill Ranford has a theory about the future career paths of goaltenders and journeymen, bottom line forward-types.
You can never tell which players will become coaches, but it seems like the goalies go do TV and the role players become coaches, said Ranford. Very rarely do the skill guys become head coaches over the long haul.
The formers Bruins goaltender and current Los Angeles Kings goaltending coach has been working with Kings prodigy Jon Quick for the last five seasons while helping turn him into the elite netminder ready to start in the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday night.
But the former Bruins third-round pick in 1985 had actually thought television, rather than coaching, was going to be his hockey gravy train after his playing days were over.
Ranford did some work in Vancouver broadcasting local games and some analyst work for TSN after taking a broadcasting course offered by the NHLPA at the end of his playing days.
I did some broadcasting with the NHLPA Goals and Dreams program, and they approached me about taking the broadcasting seminar, said Ranford. I did a little work with TSN and some radio work in Vancouver, but Marc Crawford approached me about the goaltending job in LA after Id been doing it at the junior level for a few years.
It felt like the right time to try it and Ive been doing it for six years. With my international hockey experience and Canada Cup stuff I got to know Canadian TV executive John Shannon pretty well and I thought Id get into the color analyst stuffor something TV-wise. John helped me with that early on, but Ive really enjoyed my time with the Kings working with two very good young goalies.
Crawford cajoled him into coaching when he took the reigns of the Kings six years ago, and hes survived several regime chances as the goalie guru for a Los Angeles team thats got two great young ones in Quick and Jonathan Bernier.
Youve built that trust with your goaltenders early, and the two Jonathans have been together with me for five years now, said Ranford. You gain that trust in each other. Ive got their backs and theyve got mine.
Bruins fans will remember Ranford for several different things: jumping into the playoffs in 1986 after being selected in the third round by the Bruins just one year prior, and then later being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Andy Moog.
Then he won Stanley Cup rings against the Bruins in 1988 and 1990 one as a backup to Grant Fuhr and one as a Conn Smythe winner gaining revenge on a Boston team that dealt him away before rejoining them at the end of his NHL career. Then Ranford was again moved in another infamous deal that sent Adam Oates, Rick Tocchet and the goalie to Washington in exchange for Jason Allison, Anson Carter and Massachusetts native Jim Carey.
He still looks back on his days with the Bruins fondly despite being traded out of the organization twice, and dropped in some of his old pals during last years Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.
Boston is a great city. It was an excellent city to live in when I played there, and I still have friends there to this day, said Ranford. I was at Game 5 and went in to see Harry Sinden in the Bruins box. I still keep in touch with Johnny Bucyk. There are guys on the Cup winning team that I knew a little bit over the years.
During his time coaching junior hockey in British Columbia Ranford saw the career progression of a young kid from East Vancouver named Lucic, and that created another Six Degrees of Bill Ranford connection to the Bruins even if he didnt know it at the time.
I had Milan Lucic as a player at the BC junior level and I saw him grow and develop. It was pretty special to watch that, and then see him raise the Cup last year, said Ranford. I was with him with the Coquitlam Express where he was just hoping for a chance to play, and then saw him evolve into this really dominant player during his time with Vancouver.
He was very raw. He just wanted to play. He would go run through the end boards if you asked him to because he just wanted to get out there on the ice. Thats the kind of player he was.
No matter where Ranford goes it seems like hell always tied back to the Bruins organization on many different levels, and thats perfectly okay with him now that they dont have a chance to trade him one last time.