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This year I asked each of my goalies whether they consider themselves "hybrid" or "blocking/butterfly".  Here are the results and my take.


I have to admit, when I set the poll in motion I had an idea of what would happen and, I must say, I hit my hypothesis right on the head.


I've heard a lot of goalie talk from coaches and parents and kids and something that comes up a lot is the idea of a "hybrid goalie" vs a "butterfly goalie".  The funny thing is, there never seems to be a consistent definition of what a "hybrid goalie" or a "butterfly goalie" is.  Almost every goalie or parent I know has said they or their kid is a hybrid goalie.  Sure enough, 14 goalies polled said they were hybrid and only 4 goalies said they were butterfly goalies.


The reason this is the case is mostly because there is essentially no such thing as "Hybrid" or "Butterfly" goalies.  These words and ideas were created, I believe, by marketing geniuses within goalie equipment manufacturers (I swear my goalie helmet is not lined with tin foil).  Hear me out on this.  


Check the following links below and notice the terms and descriptions each one uses to define "hybrid" and "buttefly/blocking".  Also notice the goalies they use as examples of each.


According to this Wikipedia article, Butterfly goaltending is a "term (that) eventually evolved into a style for goaltenders who tend to use the butterfly save technique as a base for the majority of their save selections.  Call me when you see a goalie who doesn't use some form of a butterfly on 90% of the shots they face.


According to the same article, "it is most commonly accepted that hybrid goaltenders are those who use their reflexes to make saves rather than depending on blocking with their bodies".  Call me when you see a goalie who doesn't use reflexes to stop 90% of the shots they face.


This Wikipedia article characterizes Marc-Andre Fleury (super athletic), Henrik Lundqvist (might just actually be a Jedi), and Roberto Luongo (one of the better technical goalies in the NHL) as Blocking/Butterfly (They even use a different term, "pro-fly" as well).


They then characterize Ryan Miller (In his prime was one of, if not the most

technically sound goalies in the game), Evgani Nabakov (more athletic) and

Tim Thomas (I'm not even sure what to call him) as "Hybrid Goalies".


The above OMHA article, written 2 years ago, characterizes Jonathan Quick

(possibly the most athletic player in the entire NHL), Pekka Rinne (super athletic),

and Sergei Bobrovski (a solid mix, maybe a bit more on the athletic side) as Butterfly goalies.


It then characterizes Lundqvist (see contradiction to above Wikipedia article), Price (hands down the most technically skilled goalie in the world), and Tuukka Rask (very athletic) as Hybrid Goalies.


The above article characterizes Luongo as a butterfly goalie and Quick as a hybrid goalie.


The above article characterizes Luongo, Price, and Lundqvist as butterfly goalies.


Just check out the answers to the yahoo question above.  They don't even make sense.  The "best answer" says that Lundqvist is a butterfly goalie who would be a minor leaguer 10 years ago and is only successful because his pads are large.  Another answer literally says "No one should ever be a butterfly goalie".  What a mess.


The problem is that the descriptions for "blocking/butterfly" implies that a goalie just drops to the butterfly every time and hopes the puck hits them while "hybrid" goalies possess actual athletic ability.  This is why, I believe, most kids shy away from calling themselves "butterfly" goalies and opt for "hybrid" (which also, let's be honest, sounds way cooler).


The idea of "hybrid" vs "blocking/butterfly" came into effect, I believe, when equipment manufacturers had to come up with something to call their different styles of pads.  Stiffer pads with flat faces were deemed "blocking/buttefly" pads and softer, more traditional pads with the knee rolls were deemed "hybrid pads".  Let's see how that checks out compared to the designations above.

Below is the goalie pads for each style in the two major brands of goalie equipment:

CCM - Premier (Blocking/Butterfly), E-Flex (Hybrid)

Vaughn - Ventus (Blocking/Butterfly), Velocity/V Series (Hybrid)


Now let's give you an idea of which NHL goalies wear which pads:

CCM Premiers: Corey Crawford, Ben Bishop, Cam Talbot, Roberto Luongo, Marc Andre Fleury, Connor Hellebyuck


Vaughn Ventus: Jimmy Howard, Antti Niemi, Matt Murray, Martin Jones


Right off the bat we can see that there are some very different styles involved here.  Lumping Marc Andre Fleury - one of the most athletic goalies in the game - in to a style with Ben Bishop - I have some nice words to describe Bishop but I'll need some time to think of them - basically breaks any rule you can think of to determine what is hybrid vs butterfly.  Crawford, Luongo, and Martin Jones are three of the most technically skilled goalies in the game.  We basically have the broad range of spectrum from athletic to technical represented in one pad.


Now let's look at the "hybrid" pads:


CCM E-Flex pads: John Gibson, Carey Price, Sergei Bobrovsky, Kari Lehtonen,

Pekka Rinne, Braden Holtby


Vaughn Velocity/V Series: Cory Schneider, Petr Mrazek, Jonathan Quick, Jake

Allen, Tuuka Raask, Ryan Miller


Again, notice the drastic difference in these goalie's playing style.  Rinne, Quick,

and Mrazek are three of the more athletic goalies in the NHL while Price,

Holtby and Schneider I would say are the three most technically sound goalies

in the NHL.


If there are truly two distinct, different styles in goaltending, you would think that
goalies like Price, Holtby, Cory Schneider, Cory Crawford, Roberto Luongo, and

Ryan Miller would be considered the same style and wear the same pads.  You

would also think that Fleury, Quick and Mrazek would wear the same style of pads.


To take this a step further, Playstation/X-Box game NHL18 designates a goalie as "butterfly", "hybrid", or "standup".  The only the problem is that literally every goalie in the game is considered a "hybrid"!  My guess is they asked the goaltenders themselves who skoffed at the questions.


So what is the conclusion?  Well, saying there are two different goaltending styles is a bit disingenuous.  There are goalies who relay more on patience, sound positioning and rebound control, and more technical aspects of the game such as Cary Price, Cory Schneider, and Braden Holtby.  These goalies may not be super fast but they rely on their ability to control the game in front of them in order to make up for this.  But saying these guys aren't fast or athletic is a pretty insane thing to say.  You could be the most technically skilled goalie in the world but, if you cannot keep up with the play, you are not going to last long.


There are also goalies like Marc-Andre Fleury, Henrik Lundqvist, and Pekka Rinne who may not have the best rebound control or positioning, but make up for it with an athleticism and speed that is off the charts.  But saying these goalies aren't technically skilled is a pretty insane thing to say.  You could be the fastest goalie in the world but if you are just flying around aimlessly and have no idea what to do once a shot gets taken, you are not going to last long.


There are also goalies that are more in the middle - your Bobrovskys and Andersons - that have a bit of both aspects in their game.


The technical parts of goaltending are taught in order to allow goaltenders to efficiently manage the game but the only way to maximize the efficiency is to become a faster, stronger skater as well.

There are the ideas of playing "outside-in" vs. "inside-out" which have validity to them but that is a whole other topic that I'm not going to get into here.


So, in conclusion, "hybrid" and "blocking/butterfly" should not be used to define a goaltender - especially one at such a young and developing stage.  In the end, pretty much every successful goalie is a blend (or hybrid, I suppose) of athleticism and technical skill.  Both Technical skills and athleticism are required to succeed (better skater = better goalie!).  It is important for goalies to recognize their strengths and play to them while also developing and improving upon their weaknesses.  Again, maximum efficiency can only be achieved through mastering both aspects (think of Carey Price).  No goalie (except maybe Ben Bishop) has succeeded without the ability to keep up with the play, read, and react to the shot.  Do not pigeonhole yourself by defining your "style".  Think of goaltending as more of a mixed-martial arts where it is often best to have a large set of different skills and abilities while also having certain strengths that you can rely on as a base.  And if you run into a goaltending coach who asks you whether you are a hybrid or butterfly goalie, run the other way.


As for pads?  Get whatever feels most comfortable combined with what you might be looking for in a pad combined with what looks the coolest (I've always said cooler pads = better goalie... maybe that should be my next study!).


I thank you for taking the time to read this analysis.  This concludes my first, way-too-dorky, very unscientific study into goaltending theory.

Jonathan Quick performing a perfect butterfly

Blocking/Butterfly pads were designed to block shots.  Hybrid pads, unfortunately, were not.

Roberto Luongo using one of his patented Hybrid-Butterfly-Blocking save selections

Ryan Miller is a Hybrid Goalie - a blend between athleticism and perfect hair

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