November 23, 2008
While best-known for massive YouTube celebrations of embarrassing hockey commercials and disparaging Photoshop art contests, Puck Daddy can occasionally be a place where intelligent discourse and debate amongst passionate puckheads thrives. Witness Friday's wonderful discussion in the comments about the current NHL overtime format.
We also have those discussions over e-mail, as readers send in insightful essays about many issues facing the NHL and hockey in general. If you ever have something to rant about, don't hesitate to send it over to email@example.com. We have sympathetic ears, and the shameless ability to let you know if you're full of crap.
Puck Daddy reader Austen Leeden from North Vancouver, BC was inspired by our story about the goaltending trapezoid rule potentially being removed from the NHL, and authored the following guest post; one that asks whether we're just too damn nice to the boys between the pipes. "The one interesting thing that strikes me whenever this debate is brought up is that no one ever seems to address the real issue here: goalie contact," he said. Enjoy, and here's Austen Leeden:
I am not a huge fan of the trapezoid, as it hurts teams that have good puck-moving goalies. A good puck-moving goalie playing the puck nine times out of 10 will not affect the speed and flow of the game when he leaves the net to play the puck. This rule seems like it was brought in to stop guys that have no business leaving their net to play the puck from slowing the game down.
Goalies in the NHL are hockey's Politically Correct card. The NHL and NHLPA go out of their way to make sure this special interest group is looked after and taken care of, and as is the case with most PC things the goalies cry about how hard done by they are and take as much as they can get.
Even 20 years ago, it was rare for goalies to come out and play the puck and get involved in the play to the same degree as today. Goalie contact used to be restricted to the crease, which is the only place goalies should be protected, as that is their position. As puck-playing goalies started to revolutionize the position, more and more goalies tried to get into the play to help their defense. Here is where the problem lies.
The problems started when goalies that shouldn't be playing the puck started to. I have never understood why goalies think that they should be untouchable anywhere on the ice. The only place they should be safe from contact is their crease.
I think keeping the trapezoid as a safe zone is still a good idea. What they need to change are the "no play" zones. Rather than giving the goalies a penalty for playing the puck in the "no play" zones, they should make it so that goalies face the same obstruction rules as players.
This is what was slowing the game down. Goalies were coming out to play the puck and blocking the fore-checker from getting the puck. You almost never saw goalies getting penalties for doing this. If goalies are protected from any contact, if they hold up the play due to coming out to play the puck they should get a penalty for it. This would work the same as the no play zone as if a goalie knew he would get a penalty for obstruction he would be less likely to come out to play the puck.
The other option, which I think would be a little more controversial, would be to allow players to check goalies in the corner.
Not hit them like they can with a defenseman, but tie them up on the boards. If a goalie is in the corner playing the puck, a player should be allowed to fight him for the puck along the boards just like as if he was a defenseman.
This, again, would create a situation where goalies would have to think twice about leaving their net. If they know that getting involved in the play could result in getting trapped on the boards or a penalty for obstruction, you would see less of it. I would love to see a goalie come out to play the puck and get trapped on the boards and taken out of the play, rather than be giving a free pass to do what ever they want out of their crease.
Goalies are not defensemen. Last time I checked, their creases don't extend behind the net and into the corners, so why should they be protected outside of their crease like they are protected inside it?
I would like to see someone finally call the goalies out on this. No one seems to want to put goalie contact on the table unless it is protecting them from it. I would love to hear a goalie try and explain why they should be protected when playing a puck in the corner. Their job is to stop the puck from going in the net.
I would be interested in seeing people's thoughts on goalie contact. I think that a lot of people would be for seeing goalies being fair game out of their nets. There is nothing more frustrating that watching a goalie come out flopping all over the place and no one being able to touch him.
The notion that "goalies are not defensemen" can obviously be disputed, as we've seen keepers like Martin Brodeur revolutionize the position.
There's also an argument to be made about the distinctive importance of a goalie to his team, and why that status deserves more protection. It's a lot like the draconian enforcement of rules that protect the quarterback in football -- one injury to the player in that position can dramatically alter an entire season for a team.
But the basic premise is a compelling one: To make the goalie part of the game, rather than some strange quasi-player with rules-restricted abilities and rule-restricted protection from a good forecheck.
Should goalies be fair game outside of their crease? Would that have the same dampening effect on playing the puck as the trapezoid?