To be a goalie with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020-21, it’s important to have a fairly cool nickname. Jack Campbell is Soup, Frederik Andersen is Fredzillia, and now there’s Large Save Dave. The Leafs acquired David Rittich from the Calgary Flames for a third spherical choose in 2022. He’s an undrafted goalie out of the Czech Republic. He gained’t depart the ice till he has pucks hit his head in the warmup. He practises with digital actuality goggles. He kisses the objective posts and often fist pumps. Rittich, a 2020 All-Star, is a self-professed emotional man, and he gained’t apologize for it.
Rittich has proven a lot emotion since signing with the Calgary Flames in 2016. In reality, he labored with an previous assistant coach, who he refers to him as his psychological coach, again within the Czech Republic over the low season. Nonetheless, his outbursts nonetheless floor. In February, he was pulled throughout a sport in Ottawa. On the way in which again to the dressing room, he slammed his head against the wall. Fortunately he was nonetheless carrying his helmet.
“Psychological” Coach has Helped his Improvement
Just a few weeks later, he was preventing again the tears in the post-game interview. He had performed an excellent sport in internet, however the Montreal Canadiens got here away with the extra time win. Reporters had been attempting to place a constructive spin on his efficiency, however he wouldn’t have any of it. “I don’t care. That’s why I’m within the internet to assist the blokes out. It’s my job. I’m doing what I like. I’m taking part in hockey,” he stated.
The reporters who’ve lined him for a very long time had been choosing up on Rittich’s emotion. “You’re an emotional man, and that’s a part of your power, and it is a very emotional loss,” stated a reporter. “The work you probably did within the offseason together with your psychological coach is that the stuff that may show you how to via the frustration of tonight?” Rittich appeared to assemble himself and responded, “I’m going to be okay tomorrow. It’s simply I’m not feeling very superior proper now.”
The query confirmed how the Calgary media had gotten to know Rittich. Many questioned how the passionate goalie would react after the Flames signed Jacob Markstrom within the low season. His response was one thing out of Jack Campbell’s playbook. “Why ought to I get pissed off? Hockey is a tough sport, and you’ve got two spots for goalies.” With a smile, he proceeded to say, “I by no means had a foul angle, so I really feel like I got here with the identical angle yearly. I’m having fun with myself on the ice and within the locker room with nice gamers and nice folks. The largest factor is, which crew can say they’ve two all-star goalies on their crew?”
Bat Flip or Stick Toss?
Rittich additionally needs to be well-known to Toronto followers. Not just for his stellar shutout performance against the Leafs earlier this season however his comparability to a different Toronto sports activities icon, Jose Bautista. Whereas Bautista holds probably the most legendary flip of the pine in Canada, arguably the second most well-known flip got here from Rittich. Whereas the bat flip has change into comparatively frequent in baseball since Bautista did it in 2015, it had not been seen in hockey. On January 30, 2020, Rittich, who was the backstop for the Calgary Flames, tossed his stick in celebration after stopping the Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl in a shoot-out.
Rittich was oblivious of the insult, “I simply felt good after that sport, and that’s it.” He was overcome in the mean time, “I simply did what I did. I don’t have any purpose why I did it. I simply felt like, you recognize, my stick was already nearly there, so I simply threw it. I didn’t wish to examine to anybody.” Rittich wasn’t conscious of the comparisons being made to Bautista’s flip, “I didn’t have any concept — I’m probably not a baseball fan.”
However the story didn’t finish there. The Oilers called out Rittich and used the slight to gas them to an 8-3 pounding of the Flames throughout the subsequent assembly, a fight-filled affair. The questions went again to Rittich for being chargeable for motivating the Oilers. “I didn’t do it to make somebody mad. I imply, we’re not in a position to rejoice on this league anymore, or what? I didn’t wish to do one thing mistaken – I simply rejoice, and that’s all,” stated Rittich.
The Maple Leafs are hoping for lots of celebrating with the addition of Rittich. With Andersen’s well being nonetheless unsure and Campbell coping with a nagging harm, the previous all-star goalie will get his probability in Toronto. There’s just one stick flip that may beat Bautista’s transfer in Toronto sports activities historical past, and that may be a toss after successful the Cup.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with greater than twenty years of expertise. He’s been rink aspect for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian youngsters, his earliest reminiscences embrace hockey. Kevin has spent numerous hours in arenas all through the nation watching all ranges of the sport.