The Maple Leafs went into the 2002 Entry Draft in Toronto with two solid goaltenders already in their organization. Mikael Tellqvist, the prized Swedish prospect, and Sebastian Centomo, the surprise minor-leaguer of the year, had emerged as two solid candidates to tend the nets for years to come. As a result, it was regarded as a surprise to some when the Leafs went out and acquired the Flames pick in the third round to select a tall, skinny goalie from Calgary named Todd Ford. But after the way Ford has started this season, no one can second guess the Leafs scouts now. Ford is quickly developing into one of the elite goalies in the Canadian junior ranks, and has the size and agility to become an intimidating NHL backstopper.
Ford plies his trade for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos; a team perennially at odds with their division foes, the Red Deer Rebels. This year is no different, with Ford’s Broncos hot on the heels of the Rebels yet again for first place. When the topic of top goalies in the WHL comes up, the discussion nowadays usually starts and ends with the Rebels’ Cam Ward. Ford is out to change that, and if the Broncos do indeed surpass the Rebels in the standings this year, it will most likely be due to the fact that Ford has continued his superlative play so far this season, and become a household name throughout the league.
Ford is a tall goalie who, when he stands up and plays his angles, can make it impossible for opposing players to see the net. He is fiercely competitive, and often compared to pros such as Patrick Roy and Sean Burke in style. Due to his size, it is often surprising how quick Ford is; he quickly gobbles up any rebounds in his crease. He has no problem handling the puck, and the work effort that coaches often praise him for will undoubtedly see him improve over the course of his apprenticeship.
Hockey’s Future recently had the chance to talk to Todd Ford about his career and his past summer preparing for his first professional training camp with the Maple Leafs.
HF: First of all, could you describe how and when did you decided to become a goalie?
TF: I decided to become a goalie in my fourth year of hockey. I found that I liked the challenge of being a goalie. Also it was fun and I did pretty good, so I decided to keep being a goalie.
HF: One of your most obvious attributes is your height. Do you approach your position differently then more vertically-challenged netminders? How does your height affect your style of play?
TF: My height does affect how I play compared to some other goalies. I cover more net when I am down on my knees and this gives me a bit more of an advantage.
HF: Growing up, who were the goalies you emulated? What was it about their games that appealed to you?
TF: I didn’t look up to any one goalie and try to copy their game, but I do remember watching great goalies like Patrick Roy, Mike Vernon, Ed Belfour and other goalies that played when I was younger.
HF: You went into the 2002 NHL Entry Draft as the #2 rated North American goalie by the CSB. What were your expectations going into the draft? How did it feel to hear your name called by the Toronto Maple Leafs?
TF: I didn’t really have any expectations going into the draft, except for getting drafted. I didn’t know when or where I would go in the draft. However when I heard my name called by the Maple Leafs it was an amazing feeling. I was very excited.
HF: In September, you made the trip to Hamilton for the Maple Leafs training camp. How did you prepare for the camp? What did you want to get out of the experience?
TF: I felt that I prepared very hard for training camp and my season. I work out hard in the off-season. I also worked on my technical game to make me a better goalie. I just wanted to get a taste of the NHL and take any advice given to me.
HF: After practicing with NHL caliber players for two weeks, what do you think are the biggest adjustments a goalie has to make going from junior to professional hockey?
TF: The biggest adjustment was the speed of the game and the skill of all the players.
HF: You had the chance to practice with two veteran NHL goalies in Trevor Kidd and Ed Belfour while in Hamilton. What kind of advice did they offer you to help you improve your game?
TF: Their advice was to work hard to improve both on and off the ice. I also picked up little things while watching them in practice and games. There is a lot to learn from these great goalies.
HF: In Swift Current, one of your teammates is fellow Leafs prospect Ian White. Could you tell us something about him as a player?
TF: Ian is a great offensive player, as well as a good D-man to have in front of me. He is very smart and has great vision on the ice.
HF: The Broncos have gotten off to a pretty good start this season. What are the team’s goals for this year?
TF: We obviously want to be the best team in the league and work hard every game to make that happen. Our team goal is to be the best team on the ice and win every night we play.
HF: You were recently named the WHL Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October. To what do you attribute your early success this year? Do you have any personal goals for the rest of your season?
TF: I attribute the early success to my hard work in the off-season and hard work going into the start of the season. But a lot of credit has to go to my team. They’ve played very well in front of me and made it much easier to stop the puck. My personal goals for the rest of the season are to play as well as I can each game and help our team win games.