NHL needs a good shrink

Wants less goalie padding, more goals

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SUNRISE, Fla. — A concerted effort is underway again in the NHL to reduce the size of goalie equipment.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/02/2016 (2369 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SUNRISE, Fla. — A concerted effort is underway again in the NHL to reduce the size of goalie equipment.

The list of Michelin Man goalies has been creeping back up since the league last did some tinkering in this area, slightly reducing the length and width of leg pads for 2013-14.

It’s what former Moose and current New Jersey Devils starter Cory Schneider was talking about at the league’s recent all-star weekend when he said he often looks down at the other end of the rink and wonders how such a normal-sized person can look so large in his gear.

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press Files Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec

The genesis of this latest attempt to show offensive players more net came quietly last June at a meeting of the NHL’s competition committee. The committee involves owners, players and league and NHLPA executives and their wish was to take another look at this area.

The matter came up, then, at the November GMs’ meetings.

The specific focus of the current effort is the upper-body gear and the pants, and there have already been a round of prototypes shown to the subcommittee examining this, including Schneider.

Manufacturers have taken the feedback from some NHL goalies such as Schneider, Pekka Rinne, Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk and are attempting more modifications to make the upper-body gear more rounded and wrapped.

Pant sizes, the other focus, should be easy to fix. Pants should just fit, not be baggy or wide.

Those items, along with other suggestions that included a lot of common sense, were part of a thorough look at goalie-equipment sizes by Sportsnet analyst and former NHL goalie Corey Hirsch Wednesday.

But the goal of the NHL is to have more precise guidelines as to the fit on the upper body and pants and exact styles to show goalies by June.

The NHL wants to implement the reduction for the start of next season.

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, a regular in the NHL since 2009 with 356 career games, said in an interview with the Free Press this week he’ll reluctantly go along with the effort, but he’s got some specific concerns.

“First of all, we don’t even know what we’re talking about yet,” Pavelec said, noting there are no specifics yet. “Nobody has said what piece of the gear they want to make smaller, what kind of changes they want to make.

“What’s clear is that they want to create more goals. Last time they changed it, it didn’t work. It stayed the same.

“The second thing is that I have full confidence in this committee, that the NHL and the NHLPA and the goalies will make the right decisions. I have full confidence that it will be safe for goalies and it will protect the goalies from the injuries. That’s a huge thing. Top priority, 100 per cent.”

Pavelec is aware the committee is studying a shrinkage of bulky shoulder and arm protection, a possible reduction to the thickness of the torso protection and also the bulk of pants.

Pavelec said he’ll go along if there is consensus that makes sense to him.

“If I’m going to be safe and the rules are for everyone, why not?” he said.

“If they’re going to make the gear smaller, they’re expecting more goals.But the thing is, we made changes a few years ago, and it hasn’t worked.”

Scoring, which has continued to sag, stands at less than 51/2 goals per game by both teams, and it may not dramatically increase with more modifications.

In isolation, the league is being careful to keep expectations low that a change in goalie equipment itself will cause an explosion of scoring.

In concert with the current discussion, the league is also continuing the conversations about defences, coaching, shot-blocking, interference and a host of other ideas in this area, any or all of which could be on the table in the near future.

If it were up to Pavelec, how would he suggest the NHL increase scoring?

“Just keep the rules we already have,” he said. “Do we want to change the rules every single year? I don’t know that we do. I don’t want to speculate what would make more goals. Nobody knows.

“We’re trying overtime. If there’s more three-on-three that would create more goals. Do we want that? ”

One thing Pavelec would object to with all his might is bigger nets.

“Come on,” he railed. “Do you see soccer changing its nets? Do you see the basketball changing theirs? Do you see football changing?

“So keep the same rules.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

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