Anaheim Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth had a lot of physical work to do to overcome a knee injury while playing in Sweden.
He also had some mental changes to make.
Fasth told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter he once threw his goalie stick 17 rows into the crowd. When his former AIK goalie coach Stefan Persson tells the story, he stops at row 7 — but you get the picture.
“When I was in my teens and got my first real goalie mask, our equipment manager told me once that the next time you break a stick on the crossbar, I’ll take your mask and throw it to the ground,” Fasth told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “Somehow I remember that one.”
He’s better now, he said — and it shows.
Working with mental coach Martin Blom, Fasth improved his approach. Persson points out another detail that makes Fasth a successful goalie.
Persson made a video of Fasth, showing just the moments when he turned his head and looked around during one game. The edit was four minutes long. He edited a similar video for AIK’s new goalie, Daniel Larsson, at the beginning of this season. That edit was 22 seconds long.
“No other goalie moves his head as much as Fasth,” Persson said. “Your eyes are key to everything. If you know where you are and where the other players are, you can then steer the defense and talk to the defensemen, and you don’t have to guess when you make saves.”
Every once in a while, Fasth has to return to the basics. That’s when he works on angles, positioning, and getting up from the ice.
“He had some problems with the small [NHL] rink, but it was just a matter of adjusting things a little,” Persson said.
How little? Four inches.
Though he could claim some, Persson won’t take credit for Fasth’s breakthrough in the NHL.
“Who came up with the flop in high jump, or the V-style in ski jumping? It wasn’t a coach, it was an athlete,” Persson said. “Viktor’s so modest, and when you hear him praise the defense after a game, that’s truly him. He also knows that when he has a bad day, he’ll get their support.”
But the goalie coach is surprised.
“Did I think he’d get to the NHL when he came to AIK? No.”
Originally published here.