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Tampa Bay Lightning Hire David Alexander as AHL Goaltending and Video Coach

July 24th, 2013 at 10:26 PM
By Kyle Alexander Abney

The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired a new coach — David Alexander — to coach goaltending and video with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

Alexander comes over after coaching goaltending at the University of Maine for five seasons, where he worked with goalies like Jimmy Howard and Ben Bishop, among others.

Via the Syracuse Post-Standard:

 

While all indications are that much maligned NHL goaltending coach Frantz Jean will retain his position with the Lightning, it's not as if GM Steve Yzerman has never used an AHL coaching hire as a launching pad to groom future NHL coaches before.

Not to idly speculate, as Jean's job seems secure for now, but if the NHL goaltending continues to flounder the way it has since Dwayne Roloson's playoff run in 2010-2011, it's not unrealistic to think that if Alexander is successful in Syracuse he could eventually find himself in the same position in Tampa Bay.

Experience with Ben Bishop is a definite plus, and he'll likely be the first North American coach to work with blue chip prospect Andrey Vasilevskiy, who by all accounts is the expected "answer" in net for Tampa Bay in the next 2-3 years.

To get a taste of what Alexander has been up to lately, lets investigate the goalie Alexander has worked most recently with at the University of Maine — junior Martin Ouellette, a 7th round pick (184th overall) of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010.

He recently participated in Columbus' prospect development camp. Mike MacLean of the SB Nation blog The Cannon had this to say about Ouellette:

"Ouellette rounds out the group, he has failed to nail down the starters role with the Black Bears since joining them."

While this is true for much of Ouellette's career with Maine, it is not entirely accurate, as Ouellette did take the net from fellow junior Dan Sullivan this season, appearing in 30 games for the Maine Black Bears in 2012-2013 compared to just 6 each for Sullivan and freshman Matt Morris. Ouellete also recorded the best save percentage (.917) and GAA (2.42) for the Black Bears this year.

Ouellette, under Alexander's tutelage, was also named the Hockey East goaltender of the month in January of 2013, after going 3-2-2 with a 1.82 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

While it is difficult to glean a coach's style or success from video clips, from those that are available online (like the one above) my first impression is that Alexander seems to favor a more passive, controlled, positional style that has some room for acrobatic and reflexive saves but doesn't rely heavily on them. In my opinion, of the goaltenders currently in the Tampa Bay system, Ben Bishop and Andrey Vasilevskiy fit that mold the best.

After a brief discussion with Clare Austin of Raw Charge, I'd like to note that my first impression may not be 100% accurate. He won't ask his goalies to sit back and fill the net and will focus on enhancing their strengths and improving areas of weakness. In this capacity, the fact that he was also hired as the video coach should not be overlooked, as it is an important tool in player and goalie development.

It will be interesting to see what results Alexander is able to coax out of a likely Cedrick Desjardins/Riku Helenius tandem in Syracuse in 2013-2014.

Tags: David Alexander, Hockey, Martin Ouellette, NHL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning, University of Maine

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