On the surface, Dany Sabourin is an obvious candidate to be a goaltending coach.
There’s 17 years of professional playing experience: Five NHL teams, seven AHL stops, three ECHL sojourns, two years each in Austria and France.
But Sabourin, the San Jose Sharks’ new goaltending development coach, is more than just a well-traveled netminder, according to Rouyn-Noranda assistant coach Brad Yetman.
“You can easily talk about technical aspects, the movement and tracking of goalies and that kind of thing,” Yetman said of Sabourin, who he worked with last year in Rouyn-Noranda. “He’s very much about the mental skills aspect because he knows from when he played how important it was.”
San Jose Sharks prospect Zachary Emond has developed with the Huskies under Sabourin for three seasons. He echoed Yetman in a interview with San Jose Hockey Now last month, when asked how Sabourin improved his game most: “It might not be a technical point, but it’s just the way he sees things. For example, he’s always focusing on having a growth mindset. Whatever the situation, he taught me to just take it the right away and know that it’s going to make me better.”
The concept of a “growth mindset” was articulated in Carol Dweck’s Mindset. Essentially, a growth mindset is the belief that talent can mostly be developed. In opposition to a growth mindset, a fixed mindset is the belief that talent is mostly innate. In Dweck’s way of thinking, individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to keep persevering in the face of setbacks.
Mindset is also the book that Sabourin gave Yetman when they first met.
“He’s pushing that on the players here,” Yetman added. “And the biggest thing with him is that if they catch onto it short-term, great, they’re gonna to have a lot of years of practice before they potentially go pro or university or whatever. But if they don’t catch onto it, then long-term, all of a sudden it’s gonna hit.”
Yetman gave to Sabourin too. When his playing career was cut short by concussions, Yetman focused his energies on his education, getting a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and Bachelor’s in Psychology. Sabourin sought that knowledge out.
“He wanted to pick my brain a little bit about what I thought about the mental side of things,” Yetman shared.
We’ll see what the new goalie development coach has in store for the San Jose Sharks’ younger keepers. Sabourin is not just shepherding Emond anymore — though living just an hour and a half away from Rouyn-Noranda, he’s still going to be around a lot — but he will continue to be just as focused on the mental aspects of goaltending as he is the physical side.
“Being a professional goalie before, he mixed that in with what we kind of talked about,” Yetman said. “He developed his own kind of strategies and and mindsets and skills to be able to help his goalies. He really took whatever small bit of information I gave him, and he ran with it.”