August 08, 2008
The thought of Kay Whitmore as the NHL's goalie equipment enforcer is rather amusing. Here's an average at best goaltender who bounced around the hockey world like a well-traveled puck bunny, and he's helping to craft legislation in an attempt to downgrade the accomplishments of much more talented players. It's like how Jeremy Piven went from the punching-bag to the dean in "Old School," or if Steve Jeltz was in charge of restrictions on slugging in baseball.
Jason Botchford of The Province has a good discussion today with Whitmore regarding the myriad of changes coming to goaltending equipment in an attempt to juice goal-scoring. As we've discussed many times before, the emphasis the NHL has put on the numbers on the scoreboard is completely mislaid, because entertainment in hockey comes from the flow of the game rather than the end results in the nets. But Kay's gotta eat, so changes are coming, including this one buried at the end of the article:
The big changes are expected next year when the league is expected to go to proportionate sizing for the first time, meaning equipment will be based on goalie's size and weight. It will have a significant impact on smaller goalies. Consider that currently Curtis Sanford, at five-foot-10, wears the same size pads as Luongo, who is 6-3.
Maybe this didn't click the first time I read it from the NHL, but Botchford spelled it out with the Vancouver Canucks goaltending example. "Proportional sizing" would appear to be a radical departure from professional sports norms. I'm not aware of equipment restrictions like this in the NFL; and I'm fairly certain that even if a player has Tyrannosaurus arms that he has to use the same-sized bat as David Ortiz.
Is "proportional sizing" fair?
What makes this philosophy even more nebulous for the NHL is that the maximums for "proportional sizing" will be established by presumed levels of acceptable safety; in other words, the League is going to tell a 5-10 goalie exactly how much equipment he needs to protect himself, even if he disagrees.
This is another facet of the delightful psychological warfare the League is waging on the modern goaltender, where every five-hole is a little too open and every piece of equipment is just small enough to make them apprehensive.
There's a good discussion about "proportional sizing" in the comments of this Scott Morrrison column for the CBC, and an addictive discussion about all facets for the goalie equipment changes on The Goalie Store boards. The Botchford article also caught the eye of my friend Mirtle, who opined:
I honestly think there's going to be a limit to how much bulk they can take away from netminders without opening them to more injuries, as one of the reasons they look like Michelin men is that the puck is shot so much harder these days (with more regularity) than 20 years ago.
It'll be interesting to see if the NHLPA and its goaltenders pitch a fit over the NHL's presumed levels of protection, and the way it continues to shave down equipment like Kevin Smith editing a porno scene to avoid an NC-17.
It'll also be interesting to see if this entire effort to increase goal-scoring ever does reach its climax, where it goes beyond the netminders and starts tackling the nets. And then we'll all have a laugh over the fact that the NHL's response to players getting larger is to increase the size of what they're shooting at rather than what they're skating on.