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Bill Ranford: The Man Behind the Net

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Goaltending isn’t something Los Angeles has had to worry about in a long time.
Since 2008, Jonathan Quick has proven himself to be one of the best in the league.

Quick is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, William M. Jennings Trophy winner, and a silver medalist with the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Even as Quick nears the back end of his career, the organization has set Cal Petersen up for success – a netminder who has been greatly influenced by Quick.

Not many teams can feel as confident as the Kings have in the last ten years. And that’s all thanks to goalie coach Bill Ranford.

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Ranford joined the Kings in 2006 after 15 seasons as a player in the NHL and 2 seasons as goalie coach for the WHL Vancouver Giants. He would help lead the Giants to a championship in 2006 before signing on with the Kings, helping them win two cups in 2012 and 2014. His experience winning was not limited to those championships; he did it twice with the Edmonton Oilers as a backup in 1988 and as a starter in 1990, filling in for the injured Grant Fuhr. And, just like his future mentee Quick, he would pick up the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy in the process.

He retired on Aug. 24, 2000, finishing 240-279 with 76 ties, a 3.41 GAA, .888 save percentage, and 15 shutouts in 647 games (613 starts). He was 38-25 with a 3.07 GAA, .897 save percentage, and four shutouts in the playoffs.

And while those numbers may not seem impressive to some, it’s Ranford’s knowledge of the net that makes him unique and highly valuable. The moment he stepped into Los Angeles, the presence in the goal would begin to stabilize even as the Kings began to rebuild. Within 3 seasons, the team was in the playoffs and about to embark on a five-year postseason run, including the two championships.

Their success has a lot to do with the philosophy and experience Ranford passed on to Quick – who improved each year and established himself as one of the most elite goalies in the game. In 2012, with the Kings entering the Stanley Cup Championship for the first time since 1993, it would be Ranford’s knowledge of the postseason that would put Quick into the history books as the third American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

His message: to control what you can control.

“That’s one of the benefits I had: having been there,” Ranford said to Cali Sports News. “I had gone to the Final and had all the experience of going to the Stanley Cup Final. I was able to help not only with Jonathan Quick but other guys who had never experienced anything like that. I was able to basically talk about the ups and downs of a playoff series and the emotions that go with it. So, I think that’s where I was a benefit to others. Then winning as a coach and as a player, the only thing I can say that’s different is– I’m never going to knock the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup — but the biggest issue with being a player versus a coach is that as a player, I felt I could control my own actions and control what happens on the ice. As a coach, as soon as the puck is dropped, it’s somewhat out of your hands. Sitting back there sometimes was probably [more nerve-wracking] as a coach than when I played because it was out of my hands.”

Like every good goalie, Quick’s departure is inevitable, but Cal Petersen is set to take the reins. It was Bill Ranford’s coaching ability and the team’s recent success that brought Petersen to LA.

“The real thing that it came down to for me was the goalie coaching with Dusty Imoo and Bill Ranford. I kind of felt those guys were guys who have developed goalies in the past to be successful in the NHL and could definitely help me get to that place. They’re as respected as anybody around the league, so that was definitely a huge part of it that really drew me here.”

And though Dusty Imoo left the Kings in 2019 to become the goaltending coach of the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star, Ranford and development coach Matt Millar continued to work with Petersen to get him into top tier goaltending shape.

The pair focused on Petersen’s puck tracking from behind the net and reading the rush and the plays in the zone. All of which Petersen takes too seriously. His athleticism, size, and drive have set him up to be a primetime starter like Quick.

Ranford’s time with the Kings has been critical to the franchise. More team records have been broken in the last 10 years than any other time in team history. Although no team is the same each year, there has been a consistency in the net for the Kings that very few teams can brag about.

His knowledge and experience only grow with every game. The players trust him, and their improvement shows, even in the down years.

As the rebuilding phase nears its peak, it’s hard to be certain about the future, but fans should feel confident about one thing: Bill Ranford has the goal under control.

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