The Other Goalie
Talk to anyone about goaltending and the Leafs’ draft of 2000 and the first name that is bound to pop out is the aforementioned Mikael Tellqvist. However, 20 selections later the Blue and White nabbed a second puckstopper out of Drummondville by the name of Jean-Francois Racine with much less fanfare. At 6’3″ and now 188 pounds the Voltigeurs netminder is, like many that come out of the Q, a large butterfly style goalie, in the mold of Patrick Roy. He skates well for a big man and his Coach, Daniel Bissonnette, points out that while his charge “is at times too fast to go down he is very good at regaining his feet (once he has done so)”. Not that Racine is helpless once on the ice. The 19 year old is quite accomplished at following the puck in a scramble and keeping his body between the rubber and the mesh. In addition to that he is quick to cover anything near him and has a short pokecheck he uses to good effect when the situation warrants it.
While he has a snappy glovehand, he can be had backing up on the rush at this time. Bissonnette states that “most of the time he’s good but when a player comes in the zone on an angle, he has to improve.” That said, “bad goals don’t stick with him” and although it is true that he sometimes has problems holding onto a third period lead, “he holds up well (in games with) heavy shot counts.” Not a risky player like St. Patrick, he doesn’t get caught wandering often and when he does leave his net he tends to use the forehand to get the puck out of danger. At times he is capable of the outlet pass but more often than not he makes the simple play.
When asked where he has seen the most improvement in his game since he’s been in Drummondville, Bissonnette doesn’t hesitate to answer “concentration. He keeps his head in the game.” By the same token though, the Coach also admits that the player he says reminds him of Patrick Lalime needs to work on his “self-motivation.” In short, Jean-Francois Racine is, like most 19 year old goalies, a project. The tools are there and the technique is on it’s way, but how far in the game he goes is ultimately going to depend on how much he wants to work at it.