BOCA RATON, Fla. – NHL general managers agreed that goaltending equipment needs to become smaller for next season.
At their annual meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, the league’s GMs listened to senior director of hockey operations Kay Whitmore explain how the chest, upper body and pants areas of goaltenders can be streamlined.
“The question was asked today, ‘Well, what’s different this time around?' Well, we are attacking it together,” Whitmore said. “You are hearing from some of the best goalies in the game and they think this is what is right. They want a level playing field within their ranks.”
Whitmore said that the league will be “cutting away all the fat, the parts that extend out past the body and don’t wrap” in the chest, pants and upper body area.
He noted that goaltender safety won’t be compromised by changing equipment.
NHL hockey operations director Colin Campbell said there is currently a rule that goaltenders will be suspended two games and fined $25,000 if they cheat with equipment. Campbell said the rule will be better enforced for next season.
“When Kay makes a decision on the goaltending equipment now in place and suspends a guy, don’t holler and scream,” Campbell said. “Believe in the process.”
The plan is to have the equipment ready for goaltenders during the summer so they can prepare for the upcoming season with the new pads. Since the NHLPA is on board, no resistance to the rule change is expected. Shorter leg pads were approved for 2013-14, but that was considered such a drastic overhaul as what's being proposed.
“I can’t say every guy is going to lose X, it’s various across the board,” Whitmore said. “The plan is to get to these guys so the guys that have a more drastic changes, the longer they get to play in it and I think that is only fair. It’s time now to get it ready and get it to these players as soon as we can.”
Whitmore said manufacturers didn’t have enough sizes in the past, which also made it difficult to make more streamlined equipment. This is no longer the case.
“We’ve had in-depth meetings with their design people and they understand about rounding, contouring, wrapping things and making it fit better,” Whitmore said. “They have to understand that some goalies are seven inches wider than others and we want to make that significant difference visual to everybody.”
Whitmore said the glove area still couldn’t quite be resolved yet and called it a “work in progress.”
General managers were generally on board with smaller equipment. Part of the presentation was reportedly looking at goaltender equipment through the years. After seeing pictures general managers understood, more than ever, a change was needed.
NHL teams are scoring a combined 5.4 goals per-game, lowest since the 2004-05 rules changes that were supposed to open up offense. Changing goaltender equipment is the latest attempt to boost scoring around the league.
“I really do think there’s going to be a positive movement in that direction,” Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. “We all want it. It’s unanimous across the board you want to make sure the goalies are protected, but you have to look at pictures now vs. 10 years ago, it’s too much, it has to be scaled back.”
Some general managers noted that changing the equipment could enable smaller more athletic goaltenders to have a chance to be successful NHL players again. In the last several years, there’s been a move to taller netminders because they take up more of the net.
“When you put athleticism into the game, you’re going to see a separation from a blocker to someone that is athletic. The one thing I’ve noticed, there’s no ‘Johnny Hockey’ in goal,” St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “There’s no great, small goalies now and there’s no small, great goalies coming when you talk to our scouts. It’s a big man’s position, so a big athletic man is probably going to be better than a big shot blocker and maybe smaller equipment will enhance the ability for smaller goalies.”
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