Who the Folk?! Lorne Furman

Hockey coach Lorne Furman talks to us about Minnesota hockey culture, being a hockey parent and his past as a professional bagel baker.

When did you move to the Twin Cities?

We moved here in June 2014 after living in South Florida for the last 12 years. We tend to get a lot of side eye from people when they learn that we moved from a tropical climate, but we love it here—snow, winter, all of it.

How is the hockey culture here vs. in Canada or Florida?

Montreal and Canadian hockey is extraordinarily competitive and, much like Minnesota, has deep roots and a storied history. While Montreal was an absolutely fantastic place to grow up and play hockey, I’m very glad that my kids are growing up here in Minnesota where while it’s still highly competitive, but less cutthroat.

The youth hockey culture here in Minnesota is unparalleled—there’s opportunity for kids to play at all levels, from elite to recreational. The association system allows for hockey to be both more affordable and accessible and the level of these kids is just unreal. Florida youth hockey is one of the fastest growing in the nation, but as both a coach and as a hockey parent, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here in Minnesota.

How did you get into hockey?

Both my older brother and my older sister played hockey. I’ve been going to rinks since I was in the womb; it’s in my blood!

How I became a goalie is likely a better story: as a first year Atom (Squirt), I opened my big mouth to the coach about our goalie (who happened to be his son) not being very good as we had lost the first 10 games in the season—the coach asked me whether I thought I could do better and I said, “Yeah, I do!” He tossed goalie gear at me and I strapped on the pads for the rest of the practice and we tied the next game with me in net (our best showing of the year); I never skated out again, I was hooked.

What inspired you to start coaching?

I started running goalie clinics as a 12-year-old in Montreal. I absolutely love giving back; it’s particularly rewarding to be able to help guide goalies in their development, as goalies are often ignored or used as “shooter tutors” during practices.

As great as the U.S. and Canada are at developing elite hockey players, North America is falling way behind in developing elite goaltenders. I hope to be able to change that, one goalie at a time.

Are all your children hockey players?

Two of our three play hockey; our son is a goalie, too, and plays both association and AAA in spring and summer. Our younger daughter just started playing hockey this year and is trying out goaltending for the first time next weekend; I’ve already informed her that she’s not allowed to like being in net—as my wife says, two goalies in the family is already two too many.

Our oldest plays travel softball and is also in her middle school’s musical theatre production.

What’s the one thing parents of aspiring hockey players should know?

Hockey isn’t just about winning. It teaches long-lasting life lessons: perseverance, team work, grit, determination, how to be both a gracious winner and how to come back twice as hard after a crushing defeat. 

What do you do when you’re not on the ice?

Watch NHL games. What else?

Other than hockey, my family and I are enjoying getting to explore all that Minnesota has to offer from restaurants to cultural events to sporting events. (Yes, including more hockey!)

Did you meet many other Jews in hockey during your career?

Not many, but it’s great to see a few fellow members of the tribe playing in The Show—including Jason Zucker of the Wild.

What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Any one that includes food, (which is pretty much all of them).

What’s your favorite traditional Jewish food?

My wife makes a mean brisket and an amazing chicken soup. Whenever we get back to Montreal, I eat a metric ton of Montreal bagels, cheese bagels and lox.

Anything else we should know about you?

I can bake. My family used to own a Montreal bagel bakery and I was the head baker. Now that my wife and kids are all gluten free, I’m trying to master gluten-free baking.

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