Jason LaBarbera of Prince George is currently coaching Taylor Gauthier of the PG Cougars (plus other goalies Dylan Garand and Devon Levi) with the Canadian world junior team in Edmonton.

Next month, the 40-year-old LaBarbera will be coaching former Vancouver Canuck Jabob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames.

LaBarbera has just received a promotion, one that does not require leaving one city for another, something he did plenty of while playing in net during a 16-year pro career.

He becomes the Flames Goaltending Coach after serving the past four seasons with the Calgary Hitmen as both Assistant and Goaltending Coach.

The Flames are investing heavily into hockey’s most scrutinized position by expanding their netminding department.

Jordan Sigalet is staying with the team as Director of Goaltending and Thomas Speer will continue to serve in his role as Development Goalie Coach.

With the addition of LaBarbera, that gives the Flames a whopping three coaches dedicated to helping the team develop and assist their goalies.

“This is something we’ve gone back and forth on and wanted to be strategic about it,” Flames General Manager Brad Treliving told Alex Medina/CalgaryFlames.com

“At the end of the day, goaltending is the most important position and for us, we had to look at it at from a perspective where we could best cover each base to further build on that position. It all starts with identifying them, scouting, developing, to then coaching.

“We wanted a system in place that covers all the different levels while also having them work closely together for the success of the organization as a whole,” added Treliving.

LaBarbera played in 187 NHL games over 11 seasons and 338 more games in the AHL.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity and very fortunate to be here,” LaBarbera said in an interview with Medina. “I love this side of the game and to take the experience from when I played to then add layers to it from my coaching with the Hitmen and with Hockey Canada will prove to be beneficial in my new role. When you can take those experiences and translate them to the next level, it’s a huge asset.

“You’ve got three guys with a lot of knowledge and experience working with some great goalies that can help each other out. A lot of times with being the goalie coach, you are a little bit on an island but having this set in place I have guys I can rely on and trust. We want our goaltenders to reach their full potential and build a program that continues to produce great goalies,” stated LaBarbera.

With no place like home, LaBarbera appreciates the opportunity this represents for his family.

“My kids, hands down, were (the most excited) because there was no moving involved, they were thrilled,” said LaBarbera. “It’s very rare for things to work out like this because in coaching if you want to progress you have to look at packing for those opportunities but everything just fell into place and what a blessing it is to stay in Calgary.”

There could be a perception that the Flames are unnecessarily going overboard with three coaches dedicated to one position.

Should this decision pay off for Calgary, we can anticipate other NHL teams to follow suit.

#

The WHL took its time before announcing the obvious this week that the league is in no position to start its season Jan 8th as planned.

The Board of Governors will meet early next month to discuss options on a start date and a schedule.

“We have daily, continuous meetings, zoom calls, and discussions. There is so much work being done behind the scenes,” said PG Cougars VP of Business Andy Beesley in an interview with mypgnow.com.

Beesley added each team needs about a month’s worth of preparation before opening night.

“The light at the end of the tunnel felt a little bit like a freight train coming to run us over,” Beesley mused.

“To start our team back up, it’s not like turning a light switch on and off,” he added.

It has now been just over 10 months since the WHL last played a game.

There is the realistic belief (thanks to a COVID-19 vaccine) that the league will be able to start up again in 2021, but the question lingers as to whether that date will be fairly early in the new year or perhaps as late as the fall.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Minnesota Vikings placekicker Dan Bailey missed all three field goals and an extra point against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Uh, if Vanderbilt classes are over for the year, is Sarah Fuller available?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Cleveland Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett went from bashing an opposing QB’s unprotected skull with his helmet last season to being nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year this season. His off-season travel itinerary is being checked for any travels along any roads leading to Damascus

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

The Gonzaga-Baylor men’s basketball game featuring the 1-2 teams in the country was scuttled by positive tests in the Bulldogs’ camp. In a related story, COVID-19 was just voted No. 1 in the latest AP poll.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will stay in Wisconsin. He signed a record five-year contract extension with the Milwaukee 228-million Bucks.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca