Rangers goalies past, present shine on NHL All-Star stage with Shesterkin, Talbot, Georgiev

NHL: NHL All-Star Game
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – It’s probably not a coincidence that three of the eight goalies here at NHL All-Star Weekend have ties to the New York Rangers. Just call it the Benoit Allaire Effect.

The Rangers goalie coach helped develop current Blueshirts netminder Igor Shesterkin and fellow All-Stars Cam Talbot and Alexandar Georgiev.

“I didn’t even think about that, the three of us here who all worked under Benny,” Talbot told Forever Blueshirts. “I always say, had I not signed with the Rangers out of college I don’t think I would have ever made the NHL. I give so much credit to Benoit Allaire for developing me for three years in the minors first and then when I did get called up, to be really patient with me.”

Like Shesterkin, Talbot, now playing for the Los Angeles Kings, is a two-time All-Star. Georgiev, the Colorado Avalanche goalie, made his first All-Star appearance this weekend and won the one-on-one challenge during the skills competition Friday, taking home a check for $100,000. Impressively, Georgiev stopped nine of 11 breakaway shots by Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid.

Related: Key Rangers storylines after 2024 NHL All-Star break

Rangers, goalie coach helped develop All-Stars Igor Shesterkin, Cam Talbot, Alexandar Georgiev

In a conversation with Forever Blueshirts, Georgiev acknowledged Allaire’s role in helping him become a No. 1 goalie in the NHL.

“Yeah, it’s incredible all of us here, and the respect he has in the League,” Georgiev said. “His understanding of the fundamentals are so sound and his positivity is a big thing. He creates a fun environment. It’s great, all the goalies that have had success under him, and I’m one of them.”

Allaire is in his 20th season with the Rangers. He’s also been a goalie coach with the Phoenix Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens, counting Sean Burke, Nikolai Khabibulin and Brian Boucher as his success stories.

It’s in New York where Allaire has gained his biggest notoriety, though. Allaire coached Henrik Lundqvist for 15 seasons and is a big reason why Lundqvist was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2023.

But Lundqvist is not the only Rangers goalie to have benefitted from Allaire’s expertise and upbeat personality, as evidenced by Shesterkin, Talbot and Georgiev sharing the spotlight here in Toronto this weekend.

Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire ‘deserves all the accolades’ for work with Henrik Lundqvist, others

“He deserves all the accolades,” Talbot said. “You see all the goalies he’s produced through the pipeline that springboarded to starting jobs around the NHL. It’s pretty crazy how many guys he’s been able to develop under Hank that moved on and became a No. 1 somewhere else.”

Talbot was not selected in the NHL Draft, so the odds were stacked against him. But he developed quickly in the minors and then helped the Rangers reach the 2014 Stanley Cup Final by posting a 1.64 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 21 games as Lundqvist’s rookie backup.

The following season, Talbot had increased playing time when Lundqvist was injured. He was 21-9-4 with a 2.21 GAA and .926 save percentage and helped the Rangers win the Presidents’ Trophy. He went on to become the No. 1 in Edmonton and now, at age 36, remains a top goalie in the League.

And Talbot still appreciates what Allaire did for him and his career more than a decade ago.

“He just sees the game from such a different perspective. And he’s just so positive and fun to play for,” Talbot explained. “Even if you have a bad game, he won’t show you the goal against. He’ll show you video of you doing that same exact thing the right way and making the save. That positive reinforcement just makes it so easy to play for him.”

Shesterkin and Georgiev will always be linked to each other and Allaire. Though Georgiev, undrafted like Talbot, arrived first on Broadway in 2017-18, it was Shesterkin who emerged as the heir apparent to Lundqvist. In 2021-22, Shesterkin became the second Rangers goalie (along with Lundqvist) to win the Vezina Trophy under Allaire’s tutelage. This weekend, Shesterkin helped Team Matthews win the All-Star game with some masterful work between the pipes.

“Igor was great,” coach Peter Laviolette said.

Georgiev’s final season in New York was the same as Shestekin’s Vezina campaign. He was traded to the Avalanche and has started more games than any NHL goalie since.

Looking back on that time when he was behind Shesterkin on the Rangers’ depth chart, Georgiev said simply, “We’re both professionals and that’s the situation that happened. Do my job, be a good teammate. … I try not to look in the past too much.”

Georgiev was more expansive when discussing Lundqvist’s Hall of Fame induction and what it was like to play alongside him from 2017-20.

“He’s one of the better hockey players in the history of the game,” Georgiev explained. “Coming into the League, he was my partner and my competition at the same time, so you try not to raise him up to a pedestal, but I’m so happy for him getting all the credit he deserves now, having had such a great career. … I learned so much from him, especially how hard he always worked in practice.”

Shesterkin benefitted from watching Lundqvist at the end of his career. And he’s thriving under Allaire. 

The 28-year-old is 118-54-16 in 190 NHL games with a 2.46 GAA and .920 save percentage. When he won the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Shesterkin became the fastest goalie to 100 wins in Rangers history (159 games) and just the seventh all-time in the NHL to reach that number in fewer than 160 games (Bill Durnan, Michel Larocque, Frank Brimsek, Bob Froese, Chris Osgood and Tiny Thompson).

Shesterkin sparkled under the spotlight here this weekend. But he shared it, as well, with two former Rangers goalies, while their mentor likely was watching from afar.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny