How the Butterfly Became Standard

Adam Rothstein
2 min readSep 20, 2022
Glenn Hall doing a butterfly

Glenn Hall was the first goaltender to ever do a ‘butterfly’. Even though this wasn’t exactly like a modern-day ‘butterfly’. This technique led to what we now know as the modern-day ‘butterfly’. Before this, every goaltender played with a ‘stand-up’ style. The ‘stand-up’ style involved a goalie standing up and only going down unless it was necessary. In the early days of hockey, goalies were not allowed to plop down on the ice. They had no choice but to stand. Once goalies were allowed to plop down to stop shots, the game completely changed.

Once the 1970s and early 1980s came about, the ‘standup’ style was still strongly encouraged. But Tony Esposito was another goaltender that used the ‘butterfly’ style. The most noticeable goalie to use this style at the time was Vladislav Tretiak. Tretiak worked with his trainer and coaches to develop the ‘butterfly’ style. Many players struggled to score on Tretiak. This helped the USSR become the most dominant Olympic hockey team throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Throughout the 1990s and even the early 2000s, there were still ‘stand-up’ goalies. After the 2005 NHL lockout, more goalies began using the butterfly style. Most teams wouldn’t sign a new goalie unless he knew how to do the ‘butterfly’. Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur were prime examples of this transition era. They lead the way for other NHL goalies and were the best to implement the butterfly style.

By 2010, every starting goalie was using the butterfly style. From the late 2000s onward, goalie training camps would teach new goalies how to implement the ‘butterfly’ style. It is now a standard for all goalies, no matter the level.

The ‘standup’ style for goalies has gone the way of the dinosaur. It may be easier for goalies to the ‘standup’ style and drop on their knees. But this is not effective as using the butterfly technique. The inverted ‘V’ makes it more difficult for the shooter to score goals. It also helps the goalie become more mobile. The ‘butterfly’ can help goalies slide and stop allowing the most effective way to block shots from both sides of the net. The ‘butterfly’ is the best style to stop shots. It allows goalies to be mobile and move quickly. It is also hard to score on a goalie with good reflexes and an excellent butterfly technique.

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