John Couture is a goaltender in one of many recreational leagues that play at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin. By being a goaltender, he is also on-call for any other games that might need a net-minder at either A-Game or Centennial Sportsplex.
During the NHL lockout, many rec league players have been graced with the presence and skill afforded by former or current NHL members, most notably for John Couture, Coach Trotz and Coach Lambert of the Nashville Predators. I took a moment to ask John a few questions about what it has been like to play against Barry Trotz and Lane Lambert and how this lockout has affected or more to point impacted his hockey life and his rec league at A-Game.
John Couture grew up outside of Detroit in the Metro area and started playing hockey at a very early age. His father, a French-Canadian, instilled the passion for playing hockey and laced John up in skates at the age of 3. Since then, John went onto Butler College in Indianapolis and competed in college club hockey there. His father pushed him and his brother to stay with hockey and the daunting schedule it takes to be successful in that sport:
“And there were times, the 6:00AM practices that sucked, but it’s only later – now – that I have a true appreciation of what he did. I would say that hockey has clearly defined each and every stage of my life.”
John skated out until pee-wees, but when an injury forced him to play in net, the position became permanent.
“Our goalie got hurt and since I enjoyed playing net when we played street hockey or when my brother and I would play mini-stick in the house, I thought I’d give it a shot. It must’ve stuck. I’ve been the crazy goalie ever since.”
Since moving to Nashville in 2001, John has been a fixture in the rec leagues at Centennial and Southern Ice (now A-Game). His current team, called simply BEER, has been his mainstay for the last four years. John informed me that Trotz also played during the last lockout of 2004 in some of the rec leagues but was seen as too much of a target and didn’t play as much. John was playing on a different level back then so he didn’t play Trotz. This is the first year that Lane Lambert has played in the rec leagues due to his joining the Nashville Predators organization and coming down from the Milwaukee Admirals.
I asked John what it was like playing against Trotz and Lambert; are they faster, slower, more skilled, etc.:
“As for Trotz and Lambert, they are a bit older so that helps I guess, but there are certain skills that don’t fade. For instance, Trotz isn’t as fast of a skater as he once was I’m sure, but his hands are still top notch. In the game that we played against Trotz, he played defense and he constantly neutralized scoring opportunities because of his puck control. He could stick handle out of situations that not many in our league are able to do.”
“As for Lambert, you can tell that he was an offensive guy and those instincts never dissipate. When he was on the ice, he was always in great position for passes and rebounds. I remember one goal he scored on a two-on-one where the winger attempted a saucer pass and I came over and sold out to Lambert on the shot, but the pass was too hot and he played it off his knee to his skate and finally to his stick around behind me after I passed. It’s the little things like that that really make a difference at this level.”
John Couture feels this experience with the likes of Trotz, Lambert and even playing against JP Dumont has elevated his game for the better. By watching and learning from those that are playing or have played on that high-level stage of the game, you are bound to pickup some hints and tricks to try and incorporate into their game.
Speaking of JP Dumont, John had a very interesting story about stopping a breakaway against the former Nashville Predator:
“As for JP, oh man, that’s a funny story. Well, funny now I suppose. I guess he was teaching an adult hockey skills camp a couple of months back and for the last instruction, they were going to have a scrimmage and they were looking for a second goalie and some players to fill out the benches. So, my teammate Terry and I decided to play.
Again, it’s just always fun to get out on the ice with an NHL player. Of course, what I forgot when I committed to play is that I had donated blood that day for the Red Cross. That and the timing of the game was such that I couldn’t eat dinner beforehand. So yeah, I basically did everything or didn’t do everything the Red Cross advises for and against after donating blood.
Long story short, I was pretty light-headed on the ice and I ended up passing out at the bar afterwards from the lack of blood, but I did stop JP on the one breakaway he had against me. Oh sure, it was pure luck and I was so out of it by that point, but it makes it all worth it in the end.”
When asked if he was excited about the NHL season starting and him not having to play against Trotz and Lambert, John stated: “Well, I’m not going to lie, as I mentioned we are competitive, so it will be a lot easier to win without those guys on the ice. But, there’s something rather unique about playing with them too. We actually play their team, the Red Dogs, this Sunday, so if the NHL happens to get their new CBA worked out between now and then, even more reason to celebrate.”
Here’s hoping John and his team BEER have success against Trotz and Lambert’s Red Dogs this Sunday and earn their first victory of the season.
For those of you who want an ice-level view with a GoPro camera, check out this link.
I would like to thank John Couture for an amazing interview and insight into what it’s like to play against some NHL level talent and make the best out of a bad situation with the NHL lockout. Hopefully the NHL season can come together soon, but if you need a hockey fix look no further than Centennial Sportsplex and A-Game in Franklin to take in games of all skill levels.