April 29, 2008
There's been a long-held belief that the NHL will attract more fans if there's more scoring. It's a rather silly belief, because what makes hockey attractive to casual fans isn't goal horns but the action leading up to them; a 3-2 game with both goalies making 40 tough saves is more entertaining than an 8-6 slop-fest where one of the keepers is pulled. But that hasn't stopped the NHL from believing that more goals equals more mainstream interest, so it's been waging a war against goalie equipment for some time.
Before the lockout, the League mandated that goalies' pads had to be a maximum of 38 inches in length, a move that may have affected one-third of the keepers in the NHL. This was a smart decision, because many goalies were beginning to resemble the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (and one even won a Conn Smythe). Their equipment was shaved down again in the new CBA. The League has raised the idea of making the nets themselves larger, a threat that so disturbed Roberto Luongo that he claimed he'd quit the NHL should it happen. The net enlargement may have been a scare tactic to bring the NHLPA to the table for more equipment restriction talks; sure enough, a joint NHL/NHLPA "Goalie Equipment Working Group" was planned for this off-season. The Hockey News revealed the group's membership today:
The NHL representatives include Doug Risebrough of Minnesota, Garth Snow of the Islanders, Jim Rutherford of Carolina and Brett Hull of Dallas. The NHLPA's Executive Board voted to select three goalies and two skaters. Martin Brodeur of New Jersey, Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders, Ryan Miller of Buffalo, Dany Heatley of Ottawa and Mike Cammalleri of Los Angeles will represent the NHLPA.
"The NHLPA's membership supports reviewing modifications to goaltender equipment provided the safety and protection of goalies is not compromised," said NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly in a statement.
The group will meet on June 11 in Toronto; should it decide to alter current rules, they will be forwarded to the Competition Committee. Yes, that would be the same Competition Committee that Brodeur quit in protest last year, saying: "It's hard when nothing's improving and your name is associated with it. I didn't want to live with that."
AccuScore had a very interesting breakdown of goalie equipment shrinkage and its affect on goal-scoring. Its findings pretty much damned the idea of further restrictions:
An increase in scoring will turn what once was a Godiva chocolate-type goal to a Hershey chocolate variety of goal that is bigger in quantity, but also a lower quality product. The trade-off breaks down to a slight increase in goals, in exchange for an increase in injury to goalies, and a cheaper product.