UNITED STATES—The National Hockey League (NHL) has witnessed numerous evolutions since its inception in 1917. From rule changes to the style of play, each aspect of the game has evolved to become the high-speed, skill-driven spectacle that fans enjoy today. Alongside these changes, the introduction of FanDuel NHL odds has revolutionized the way fans interact and engage with the sport, while NHL Daily Fantasy brings an added layer of excitement.

One of the most fascinating transformations in the NHL has been with goaltending. Once a position of raw reaction and basic positioning, today’s goaltenders are a blend of athleticism, technique, and mental fortitude.

The Early Days: Stand-up Style

For the longest time, goaltenders predominantly employed a stand-up style. They rarely dropped to the ice and relied more on their reflexes to make saves. Protective equipment was minimal, with small leg pads and no masks, making the prospect of dropping to the ice to block shots less appealing. Goalies of this era, like Georges Vezina and Turk Broda, were pioneers, setting the stage for future innovations.

Introduction of the Butterfly Style

The butterfly style, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s by goaltenders like Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek, marked a significant shift in goaltending technique. This technique involved dropping to the knees to cover the lower part of the net with leg pads while keeping the hands active to catch or block shots. The butterfly allowed for better net coverage, especially against lower shots, and rapidly became the dominant style in the NHL.

Technological Advances in Equipment

The evolution of goaltending equipment had a massive role in how goalies played their positions. Modern leg pads are lighter and more protective, allowing for quicker movements and greater safety. The introduction of the goalie mask, initially by Jacques Plante in 1959, provided protection and gave goalies the confidence to face shots without the fear of injury. Over time, masks evolved from simple fiberglass coverings to today’s intricate and personalized designs made of advanced composite materials.

Specialized Coaching and Training

With the growing complexity and importance of the goaltending position, specialized goalie coaching became essential. Previously, goaltenders often trained alongside skaters with little position-specific guidance. Today, teams have dedicated goaltending coaches who provide tailored training, ensuring that netminders are equipped with the latest techniques and strategies. This specialized attention has elevated the position’s skill level to unprecedented heights.

The Athleticism and Size Factor

Modern goaltenders are not just technically sound; they are supreme athletes. The game’s speed demands quick reflexes, agility, and endurance. Additionally, there’s been a noticeable trend towards taller goalies, as the combination of size and athleticism offers an advantage in net coverage. Players like Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy, standing at 6’7″ and 6’3”, respectively, exemplify this trend, blending size with exceptional agility.


The goaltending journey in the NHL is a testament to the game’s adaptive nature. From the raw, stand-up style of the early days to the technical and athletic marvels we see in today’s netminders, goaltending has transformed immensely. As the NHL continues to evolve, so will the art of goaltending, promising fans a continued display of incredible saves and heart-stopping moments. Whether you’re a casual viewer or a die-hard fan, there’s no denying the critical role and allure of the NHL’s last line of defense.