In part 1 Latin Biz Today’s Dave Torromeo sits down with Al about Hispanics, hockey and more.
I recently sat down with Al Montoya, former NHL goalie, dad, current student and quite honestly, one heckuva nice man! We talk about his NHL career, his background of being raised by his mom, who was a Cuban refugee and his “Abuela,” as well as his philosophies, and his path to the highest level of professional hockey play.
Álvaro Montoya was an NHL goaltender who was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round, sixth overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft after a three-year career with the University of Michigan. Montoya is the first Cuban American to play in the NHL. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, (where he has retired from the game to live currently) and grew up in nearby Glenview, Illinois.
Montoya played for six NHL teams! His goal is to share the joy of hockey with youth as well as expand the game with Latinos.
As a youth, Montoya played in the 1999 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with the Chicago Young Americans minor ice hockey team. He later played for the Loyola Academy, and the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
Montoya twice represented the United States at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, backstopping the team to its first gold medal at the 2004 tournament in Finland; he was named to the tournament All-Star team. The 2005 tournament, hosted by the United States, was a disappointing one for Montoya and the U.S., as they failed to earn a medal, losing to the Czech Republic in the bronze medal game.
After being signed by the New York Rangers to a three-year entry-level contract in the summer of 2005, Montoya made his professional debut with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL), the team with which he spent the majority of the next three seasons. Overall, he posted a 66–34–4 record with the Wolf Pack, along with a 5–5 playoff record.
With the emergence of Henrik Lundqvist as an All-Star caliber goaltender, Montoya became expendable to the Rangers. On February 26, 2008, Montoya was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Montoya was later traded to the New York Islanders (AHEM, MY TEAM) in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2011. With Islanders’ goaltenders Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin sidelined with injuries, Montoya was provided with an opportunity to play regularly in the NHL for the first time. He went on to play 21 games for the Islanders, posting a 9–5–5 record with a .921 save percentage and one shutout.
On March 29, the Islanders re-signed Montoya to a one-year contract extension. Montoya recorded a 9–11–5 record during the 2011–12 season. We discuss Montoya’s time on the Island where he says he really enjoyed the fans and the raucous barn we know as the Nassau Coliseum!
Al Montoya has three children and has returned to finish his undergraduate degree. His Abuela would be proud, no doubt!