Francois Allaire, a goalie coach who made a huge impact on the sport of hockey, has retired after 32 years working in the NHL, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
Allaire’s most famous pupil was Patrick Roy, whom he worked with during his run as the first Montreal Canadiens goalie coach from 1984-1996. Roy is credited with popularizing the “hybrid butterfly” style, but Allaire deserves credit in sculpting that style as well, and in turn influencing many netminders (particularly French-Canadian ones).
As Corey Hirsch noted in a handy breakdown of goalie styles for Sportsnet in 2016, Allaire deserves some credit for modifying his methods once he mentored the likes of Jean-Sebastien Giguere with the Anaheim Ducks (and then the Toronto Maple Leafs). Allaire and Giguere employed a “blocking” technique that appealed to bigger goalies who might not be the most athletic of the bunch.
This style arrived when Allaire, in the early-2000s, took Jean-Sebastian Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks and adapted the Butterfly Hybrid he originally created. Allaire turned it into a style in which there would be very little chance for error, and even the least athletic goalies could successfully employ. It is all about using the centre of the body as the biggest blocking area and covering the ice at all times.
Allaire’s final years came with the Colorado Avalanche, overseeing the likes of Semyon Varlamov (likely with a good word from Patrick Roy).
Allaire also gets bonus points for being the target of Brian Burke’s ire during his Maple Leafs days. Allaire deserves credit for evolving his methods, yet at least some wondered if the game finally passed him by.
“The position has evolved in the last three to five years,” Burke said in 2012, via the Toronto Star. “Nobody plays the classic stand-up anymore either. Everything advances.”
Mile High Hockey notes that Allaire’s retirement comes to at least some surprise as it relates to his most recent employer, the Colorado Avalanche.
Lavoie and others argue for Allaire to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it’s difficult to argue with that rationale, even if you give Roy and Giguere the bulk of the credit for their peak moments. Francois and his brother Benoit Allaire both made an impact on the sport, whatever way you slice it.
This post’s main image nicely captures something of a “goalie tree” for both Roy, and to some extent, Allaire. You can see Allaire himself in the Getty photo below:
Francois Allaire was also an author of hockey books, including “The Hockey Goalie’s Complete Guide: An Indispensable Development Plan” from 2009.
Here’s his retirement announcement: