Patrick Roy is undoubtedly one of the most important names in the history of ice hockey. Over the past three decades, Patrick Roy shaped how goalies play on the ice. Since he developed his distinctive butterfly style, countless contemporary goalies (nearly all of them) have adopted the goaltending style he decided to us when he began his career in the 1980s.

What Is the Butterfly Style?

If you’ve watched some hockey — even if you’re not a huge hockey buff — you probably already know the butterfly style of tending goal. Goalies stand with their legs winged out — using them to cover as much of the goal as possible. In the butterfly style, goalies wing their arms up to cover the top part of the net, which helps minimize the area that the puck can get through. Today, most people use a style derived from the one mastered by Patrick Roy. While each has his own spin, every goalie tends to use both legs and arms to cover a significant amount of goal area.

History of the Butterfly Style and How Patrick Roy Popularized It

The Butterfly style existed long before Patrick Roy. In fact, in the 1960s, goalies like Glen Hall and Tony Esposito began to use it — dropping to their knees to stop pucks. Roy made the style popular, however, because he was a large, tall, flexible man who figured out how to use his body to stop many, many pucks — more than most goalies before him.

At first, Roy’s coaches discouraged him from using the style. Sometimes, it does leave the net open for high shots. However, once Roy ended up with one of the winningest records in the history of hockey, experts discovered that there was some method to his madness — and allowed the goaltending style to spread.

The Butterfly Style Today

Today, goalies still have to sharpen their reflexes and work on stopping pucks with their sticks, masks and hands. However, most have taken a page from Roy’s book and learned that the body is one of the most effective instruments to stop a puck. This makes it extremely hard to score in hockey, and players have had to learn to shoot the puck just under the bar of the goal to get around it.

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