11 June 2019
When the summer trades are coming thick and fast, it’s easy to overlook what’s happening on the team staff. But the arrival of goaltending coach Dusty Imoo promises to be something of a special acquisition.
Imoo, who represented Japan in the 1998 Olympics, spent the last four years in a similar role at the LA Kings. When he joined the organization, the team was grappling with an alarming lack of goaltending depth behind Jonathan Quick. Imoo was instrumental in resolving that situation by developing the skills of Jack Campbell (pictured on top with our rookie coach during their Kings time) and Cal Petersen, nurturing them into NHL-ready goalies and rebuilding that depth chart.
Those two are by no means the only players who credit Imoo with lifting their careers. When he was with the Winnipeg Jets organization, he helped Connor Hellebuyck mature into a Vezina candidate – having started out as a 130th draft pick. Veteran Peter Budaj also found a touch of the Imoo magic helped him to regain his mojo and went on to be part of the Tampa Bay roster that took the Caps to seven games in the Conference finals last year. Coach Imoo comes with some serious pedigree.
He also comes with a place in the history books. Back in 2015, a goaltending crisis within the Kings meant that the Ontario Reign, the organization’s AHL farm club, had to ask Imoo to suit up as back-up goalie for one game. The starter that night? Jonah Imoo, his son. Never before had a team named a father-and-son goaltending duo in the league.
Coming to Kunlun Red Star, Imoo will also take on a role in developing China’s young netminding talent ahead of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. That means helping to get the best out of the likes of Sun Zehao, the first Chinese-born goalie to appear in the KHL. But the man himself isn’t one to set specific targets for his charges: there’s no masterplan to turn a prospect into a #1 starter for the club, or make an Olympic champion out of an unknown. Instead, as he explained in a 2018 interview with the Cali Sports News website, the secret is about maximizing the potential of every goalie in the organization.
“My goal is that I get a hold of [our netminders] and work with them so that I can help give them the best opportunity to make the NHL, being an NHL goalie and to journey on and to help them improve,” he said in May 2018.