Greetings Dallas Stars Fans! I am GeoFitz, a Tampa Bay Lightning fan and a RawCharge.com writer. With training camp under way and the season about to start, I thought it would be nice for me to share my perspective of Ben Bishop with his new fans. A little about what to expect from him on the ice as well as off the ice.
I have to admit that I’m a fairly late-comer to hockey in my life. The Lightning winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 tried to bring me into the sport, but the subsequent lockout made me forget about it. It wasn’t until the Lightning had found a couple of young studs in the draft in Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman that I got back into watching hockey. Then the sale of the team to Jeff Vinik, the hiring of Steve Yzerman, and a run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals sucked me in. I’ve dove deep and really loved getting so involved with hockey.
When Yzerman traded for Ben Bishop, it was around the time that I had started to get into following prospects. If you could go back and look at the Twitter reactions at the time of trading Cory Conacher for Bishop, people were ANGRY. Conacher was viewed as a Calder Trophy candidate and a rising star by many fans. And he certainly had a hot start to his career. For me personally, I was very happy with the trade. I was able to look at the team’s prospect pipeline and see names like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, and Brett Connolly that were in the AHL and producing. The Lightning had more reinforcements on the way and could spare moving Conacher for something it needed more.
The Bishop trade also came after the team had traded for Nashville Predators back-up goaltender Anders Lindback. Lindback fell flat as a starter and was not up to the challenge. Thus, bringing in Ben Bishop.
At that point, Bishop had only played in 36 games in the NHL. In the final nine games he played with the Lightning in 2012-13, he had a .917 SV% and was solid. There was enough to give a glimmer that maybe the Lightning had found a league average goalie. Boy were we wrong. We found a Vezina finalist goalie.
Through the parts of five seasons that Bishop was in Tampa, I got to see the highs and the lows. I got to see him on the ice and off the ice. I got to see him grow from a goalie trying to figure out the NHL into a top 10 performer. And here’s what I have learned in that time.
Ben Bishop is a great puck handler, but he’ll have you on edge.
Many were the calls in Amalie Arena to “STAY IN YOUR NET!” And I have to admit, as much as I appreciate his ability to handle the puck, Bishop scares me sometimes. However, having Bishop back there is like having a third defenseman. He’s sure handed and generally makes good decisions. Every once in awhile he gets caught and it costs the team. But watch for him to make a stretch pass out of the zone and get a break out for the forwards to attack. He’ll especially be aggressive with that on the power play, collecting a cleared puck and getting it up to a teammate waiting at the far blue line while the opposition makes a line change. So hang on to your hats because sometimes it can be a wild ride.
Sometimes, he misses the saves he should make and he has some bad luck, too.
Bishop has been known to let in some softies. Being a big goaltender, he has an ability to cover a lot of the net, but it also leaves him with some bigger holes. His five-hole in particular is vulnerable and he has been burned by it, especially in the shootout.
He’s also been known to have horrible luck on bad bounces off the boards. Just in the past two seasons, I can count four goals from memory that went in off a stanchion when Bishop went behind the net to collect the puck.
Off the ice, he is all smiles. On the ice, he is all serious.
As you watch Bishop on the ice, he puts on his game face. He is serious. He’s not over at the bench cutting it up with his teammates. He’s focused in on the game. During stoppages, he does what many goaltenders do and skates from his net to the corner and then back. He usually does not come to the bench during TV timeouts, preferring to stay around his net and focus in on the game.
Off the ice though, he is Mr. Smiles. It’s hard not to like him off ice. He’s very personable, funny, and it just seems like he’s always happy to be there. Most hockey players I’ve had the opportunity to meet have been pretty nice to fans and Bishop is no exception. Just be careful if you meet him on game day when he’s scheduled to start. You might want to keep your distance.
Bishop respects the flag and the national anthem
To be honest, I never noticed if anyone did this before Bishop came to Tampa. There probably were players that did this before him, but this habit seemed to spread to a number of his teammates. When Bishop is the starter, he takes his spot along the blue line next to his teammates for the national anthem. If the flag is brought onto the ice, he will remain standing in his spot until the flag leaves the ice. Once the flag is off the ice, he’ll put his helmet on and skate to his net.
I had the opportunity to go see the Lightning play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago around Veteran’s Day a few seasons ago. The Blackhawks brought a large United States flag onto the ice that covered much of one end. It took the crew some time to fold up the flag and remove it from the ice. Bishop and Tyler Johnson remained standing at the blue line with helmets off until the flag left the ice.
You’ve got a good person and you should cherish him.
I will always be a Ben Bishop fan… unless he goes to the Bruins… or the Canadiens… or the Blackhawks… you know, it’s a rivalry thing. But with him in Dallas, I have no shame in continuing to cheer for him. He is a good goalie and an even better person. Cherish him, love him, cheer for him.
Good luck Stars fans.