Bobby Goepfert is a professional goaltender.
He’s not a very good one, mind you, but he still somehow tricked a team in the DEL to sign him this year, a league widely regarded by most pro players as one of the top – if not the very best – European hockey league.
He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in ’02, has spent time in both the AHL and ECHL, and started for St. Cloud in the WCHA. He posted this line for team USA at the 2003 World Juniors: 1.77 GAA, .937 sv%.
….Okay, maybe he’s not so bad after all.
Anyway, we got to know each other in St. Cloud bars after his team routinely whipped mine, and we hit it off immediately (he’s from Long Island). As luck would have it, we ended up at the Hershey Bears training camp together too, where he gave me every conceivable chance to make the team by being in net when I was shooting.
Anyway, he read my post on goalie abuse yesterday (you may need to check that out for context), and felt the need to respond as follows. Dude has one hell of a sense of humour – you can follow him on twitter here.
-by Bobby Goepfert
After reading your article and sitting in disbelief at how you dehumanize the men behind the mask, as a member of the Goaltending Fraternity “Gamma Omega Alpha Lambda Iota Epsilon: Minors & Abroad Chapter,” I feel it my duty to challenge you to a duel. However, this isn’t your typical great great grandfathers duel ala Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, but our new viral generation where duels can be settled like grown men; sitting on a couch miles away with a lap top and a social networking website. They always say, “The keyboard is mightier than the sword.” And so I shall send a volley your way.
Getting back to my first point, your dehumanization of goalies is grossly distasteful. A working class group of men, with the weight of organization on their shoulders, the fate of every game strapped to their back, and all they want to concern themselves with is performing well. You and simple minded others do not care about that, but in its stead, try to find ways to make that job tougher. Much like the kid in high school with coke bottle eyeglasses, a pocket protector and a backpack that looks like he’s going camping, us goalies just want to go to work and do the best we can. But there are bullies in every aspect of life, and you my friend along with countless others try to deter us from achieving good grades by slapping the books out of our hands, verbal assaults, and the occasional wedgie. This comes with the territory but in no way makes it acceptable.
Below are some of the highlights from your blog that I would like to delve into a little bit more.
1.) “Snowing is ok.” – Sure, it seems harmless enough. Skaters race towards the goalie in the hope he fumbles the rebound like a punt returner in the NFL, only to stop short and deliver an irritating but yet refreshing snow storm. The “Snow-Job” is widely considered one of the most disrespectful acts an opponent can inflict on a goalie. In the rare case, they cannot help it. Some apologize, others are intentionally dicks, but in the end, snow is snow, and it melts. The problem is, guys like myself who wear contacts run the risk of losing one, which would in turn effect our vision. You are probably laughing right now, but I ask you this; sounds similar to stealing a bookworm’s glasses the day of a test, doesn’t it?
2.) “Pushing a goalies skates out etc.”- Most goalies became goalies because they were the younger sibling obligated to, liked the equipment, or quite frankly couldn’t skate. To make matters worse, you going ahead tripping and jostling for the goaltenders rightful space is just another example of how your cavalier forward mind works. Carrying our lunch tray through the lunch room, you are that guy who sticks his foot out causing our lunch to be lost and being laughed at by the school.
3.) “Any and all verbal abuse.” Years of torment have made us goalies thick skinned. Our bodies are carved from stone and coated with dragon scales so no matter what you say from 19 up will have no bearing on the most professional of us. But I, as I am sure most goalies do, remember our first and subsequent harshest verbal assaults. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can be more violent. I experienced harsh assaults in junior and college. Junior being the worst, as it was the first time I was the target of verbal abuse (besides from my father during or after a poor performance as a youth). My mother this, and my mother that. I didn’t know what to think. I was just a kid Justin. Just a child. Leading me to ask my mother if she was ever in Waterloo, Iowa. She never was. So all those guys standing above the overhang of my net in the 2nd period were liars! Learning that most verbal assaults you receive as a goaltender are false at an early age really helped me develop my dragon scales quickly. But you however, still do and encourage others to use your words like sticks and stones in the hope of breaking bones. But they never will….
I hope this twog (editor’s note: twitter-blog) was an eye opener for you Justin. Us goalies are just like you. If you trip us we fall. If you cut us we bleed. And if you hurt us, sometimes we cry. Just because we wear more equipment, act a little quirky and sometimes receive special treatment, doesn’t mean that we should be targeted for those differences.
In a perfect world, our game would be like the “Bubble Hockey” games of old. There would be no snow to spray. No route you could take to disrupt us. And a thick bubble above the ice, shielding us from the foulness spewed from the mouths of the ignorant. What is said below that bubble by opposing would stay there and would be settled when you enter the crease. Or on a social networking site that allows us to vent with no repercussions.
“Mr. Bourne-achev: TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!!!”
Geffman47: Change you can believe in.
Another “editor’s note” – here’s your poor, often-wronged and misunderstood goalie friend Bobby in an ECHL game in Florida, under a year ago. Oh, he’s so meek and timid!