Carter Hart arrived in Buffalo for the 2018 World Juniors as the undisputed starting goalkeeper for Team Canada, with the best numbers in the Canadian Hockey League. His trip that year ended in a gold medal, but Hart’s story at the event included an unexpected chapter.
Opposing countries have understood that the native of Sherwood Park, Alta. had an unusual superstition. Hart was to be the last player off ice at the end of a period. Thus, some teams have tried to play with the Everett Silvertip, leaving their goalkeeper on him to wait for him. After the first quarterfinal period against Switzerland, Hart only left the ice to return after the departure of opposing player Matteo Ritz.
In the end, Hart was unruffled and his talent won.
But when he returned to the Western Hockey League, Hart had to deal with a new reality. His secret was exposed and the opponents, who had been dominated by the CHL double goalkeeper of the year, sought to exploit him.
“I was exposed well enough for that,” he recalls. “I have probably gone too far. It was something that was a great lesson for me. It was a superstition, but I just realized that it has no effect on who I am and the way I play hockey. effect on the outcome of the hockey game and when I realized that I had stopped doing it. I learned that in the future, especially in the NHL, guys are looking for certain things to try to dismiss other players. I still have superstitions and routines, but these are things that no one really knows or could really affect. “
Hart remains a creature of habit. During that same world junior race, he revealed that he ate the same breakfast – three eggs, two pieces of toast and a glass of chocolate milk – every day for four years.
“I don’t eat the same breakfast anymore,” he said with a smile. “In fact, I found out that eggs upset my stomach, so I don’t eat at all. My breakfast is now two pieces of toast with cashew butter, banana slices on it and then a smoothie to drink. That’s about what I eat for each breakfast. “
The change was positive for Hart’s stomach and psyche.
“Honestly, I’m not as superstitious as I was in junior, far from being as close. I sort of got away from that. I am more than routines. I do everything at some point or in a certain way And that’s about it. “
A highly touted prospect, Hart has lived up to the hype of Philadelphia, a notoriously difficult market, especially for goalkeepers. After two seasons with the Flyers, he is 40-26-4 with a save percentage of .915. Before the pandemic break, Hart had supported Philadelphia one point ahead of the Metropolitan Division.
The 21-year-old spoke to TSN this week via Zoom to share a glimpse of his rapid rise and reveal who he considers to be the toughest shooters in the National Hockey League. The following is a modified transcript of the conversation.
In Toronto, James van Riemsdyk had a reputation for having fairly extensive routines. Do you have any ties to that?
“He is definitely routine oriented. He’s a guy who helped me a lot and took me a bit under his wing and showed me things off ice with the way he treats his body and what he puts in his body. He has all kinds of people at his fingertips for different types of body work, massages, therapy and he really opened my eyes to this world of things and with his approach to each training and each game. at similar times. I usually get there like two hours, 50 [minutes], two hours, 45 [minutes] before. I mean, it always warms up. He probably has the longest warm-up in the NHL, he warms up constantly before the game and doesn’t stop. “
What made it possible for you to find a level of comfort ranging from a rookie to a second year student in the NHL?
“Just all the different experiences that I had in my first year with the program, all the traveling, learning from guys like [van Riemsdyk] and even other guys like[[[[Claude Giroux]and Jake [Voracek]. They almost played a big brother role for me by intervening in situations. At the end of [my rookie] year, I think we had two months left in the season, and they said I could get a place or move out of the hotel… and I didn’t really want to sign a lease because it was so late season and then Jake said, “Hey, I had an open place in my old apartment. No one is there and it is fully furnished, all you have to do is get a mattress and you can move in. I was like, “This is great! How much do I owe you? “And he said to me,” Nothing, don’t worry. He just let me move in. At Christmas time I had nowhere to go and G invited me and his family for Christmas dinner. “
How would you describe Christmas at Giroux?
“I remember we played some sort of board game. I don’t remember what it was called. It was Telestrations or something like that. It was a pretty fun game and they are a big family. It was with Claude’s wife, his family, so they’re great people and for G to do that, invite me, it was pretty cool. All of our older guys, the guy leadership group, are all great and, for me, joining the league last year at 20, in the middle of the season, they treated me very well and gave the impression of being part of the team right away. We have such a good group of guys and I think that’s why we have been successful this year is due to this locker room culture. “
You quickly fell in love with your teammates and, it seems, with the Flyers Nation. Eric Lindros recently praised you for comparing your impact on the team to how Carey Award helps Canadians. How well do you know the Big E?
“Lindros was probably one of the best players in the game and an icon of the Flyers. He actually came to some of our games this year. Her son Carl went to skate and I think Carl wants to be a goalie. don’t think his dad wants him to be one, but I know he likes the position and Eric said Carl likes to watch me play. He actually had my jersey, which was pretty cool. I worked in the training room with one of our massage therapists and Eric was there with his son and we had a good conversation and it was cool to see that Carl, even if his father is Eric Lindros, he wants to be goalkeeper (smile) or else I’m listening. “
Do you feel like you have established yourself as one of the best goalies in the NHL?
“I mean, we’re just trying to win as many hockey games as possible. I think success as a team goes hand in hand with individual success. I’m lucky to be in a good position with a good group of guys and I think when I got there I knew we had something special with the locker room culture. Sure, I want to be the best in the world and I’m still working everyday to get there, but for the moment I just have to be focused on winning hockey games and giving my team a chance every night. “
Who are the toughest shooters you meet?
” First of all,[[[[Alex Ovechkin]for sure. His snapper is just ridiculously hard. Obviously, its unique too. I would say, Sid [Crosby] has a good exit and a good backhand. Try to think of some divisional opponents. [Artemi] Panarin has a pretty good version. Who else do we have? [David] Pastrnak is a sneaky little player with a lot of skill. I would probably say that these guys are among the toughest. “
Do you study the best shooters a lot?
“Obviously we will talk about that a bit with our team meetings with team trends and how we prepare to play them but, I mean, personally, I don’t like to think about too much when I play . When you play with guys like Ovi or Sid, you know their advantage advantage trends and how they play the game or structure their attack. For me, I don’t care who we play. approach and just try to stop the puck. “
What will the goalies look like if the season resumes in summer after such a long break?
“I’m not really sure. I don’t know what the plan is. You hear so much about what’s going on and what the possibilities are, but I’m sure when we come back they’ll give us enough time to physically and mentally prepare to get back into play mode. It’s a situation different we are in and something no one has faced before, but as professionals it is our job to face and overcome this adversity and just play the game. “
Will playing without fans greatly change the goalie dynamics? Will communication with defenders be easier?
“I mean, there is no excuse for [poor] communication on the ice in a fanless game, because you will simply hear echoes on the ice. I do not know. I’m sure it would be different and it would take some time to adjust, but if we are to play without fans, we should just play without fans. “