Pens hire Bales as goaltender coach
Marc-Andre Fleury's career could come to a crossroads during the 2013-14 season.
The Penguins have hired the man they believe can get the goaltender back on track.
Mike Bales, who developed goalies in the Penguins' system during the past two seasons, was added to coach Dan Bylsma's staff Monday.
Bales, 42, beat out five other candidates, including former Penguins goalie Brent Johnson and Swedish goaltender coach Erik Granqvist.
“I like the knowledge that Mike brings,” Bylsma said. “He's a student of the game. He brings a great blend of the technical and mental sides of being a goaltender.”
It's the mental side that will be closely evaluated in regard to Fleury.
Fleury, 28, has been to the top of the mountain — he's been the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, produced terrific regular-season numbers and won a Stanley Cup — and also has sustained an unusual amount of breakdowns in big games, which culminated in his benching last postseason.
Fleury is seeing a sports psychologist this summer, and Bylsma acknowledged that Fleury's mental approach must improve. But he still is the Penguins' No. 1 goaltender.
“We all believe in Marc,” Bylsma said. “The mental part is an aspect for Marc and for our team. We know he's a great goalie. He's got great physical attributes. That's a real strength for him. Marc has shown he can win a lot of hockey games. He can be that goalie. But I think the mental toughness, the mental approach, the mental side of the game is something that needs to be a focus, and not just in April.”
He spent most of an 18-year career in the minor leagues and playing in Europe, though he does have 23 NHL games to his credit.
What are his plans for Fleury?
“I haven't really had time to develop a relationship with him yet,” Bales said. “But I can tell you that developing a relationship with Marc and Tomas (Vokoun) is my top priority right now.”
Bylsma isn't a coach that stays away from coaching goaltenders completely, but he made it clear Bales will play a vital role with Fleury.
“I will play a role,” Bylsma said, “just as I do with the penalty kill or the power play. But the goaltender coach definitely plays the biggest role in a goaltender's foundation.”
Bylsma spoke with Fleury and Vokoun following the season about a new goaltender coach, given that the team was already aware of former goaltender coach Gilles Meloche's plan to resign.
However, Bylsma said Fleury and Vokoun “weren't included” in the search.
Bales will mix old-school work ethic with new-age resources.
“I certainly appreciate the opportunity,” Bales said.
And he realizes that resurrecting Fleury's career is paramount.
“I can't wait to get to know him better,” Bales said. “We will work together, and we will develop a relationship. It's something that can't be forced. It has to come naturally. And it will.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Pens’ Johnston hopes to `lessen the load’ for Crosby
- Now healthy, Penguins’ Bennett eyes bigger role
- Penguins’ Scuderi offers honest assessment of his 2013-14 performance