Friday, August 08, 2008

Picking on pads

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.
I've written about this in the past, but the small goaltender is quickly becoming obsolete at the NHL level.

Sanford was one of only five netminders under 5-foot-11 in the NHL last season (Legace, Dubielewicz, Toskala and Osgood are the others) and there were 20 goalies listed at 6-foot-3 or taller.

Consider the new equipment restrictions just another push in that direction.

The pad changes for this coming season sound more like minor tinkering than anything — although I suppose keeping tabs on various flaps and bulges is better than the alternative.

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.

We've already seen some equipment alterations result in injuries to goaltenders, which obviously isn't a desirable outcome.

It's interesting, too, that we're hearing more and more players advocate for larger nets.



At 10:46 a.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

I was against increasing the size of the nets until it was finally pointed out to me that they don't need to be some kind of ridiculous indoor soccer-style 14 feet wide nets. Just adding a couple of inches in width and an inch or so of height would adjust the size of the nets to the fact that goalies have gotten bigger - and probably open up more scoring opportunities.

It would be a lot more sensible than the NBA, which adjusted to taller players not by raising the nets but rather by introducing a slew of arcane rules about where and when a player is allowed to touch the ball.

At 10:58 a.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Joe @ MHH said...

Maybe it's just me, but judging by Matt Bradley's other recommendations for the league, I suspect his call for bigger nets was largely tongue-in-cheek.

At 11:02 a.m., August 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

agreed adam, i was totally against the sample nets they were showing a while back (curved posts/crossbar, blatantly obvious larger rectangle) but if it's an inch or 2 wider/taller, while keeping the "rectangle" shape in place, then let's try it

At 11:05 a.m., August 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The proportionate padding stuff strikes me as counterintuitive. One would think that if you wanted to use proportionate padding, you wouldnt punish goalies for being small, but rather use rules to bring them "up to size" with larger netminders (i.e. Sanford would wear pads that brings him up to size, where Luongo would have to wear pads that brought him down a notch). Why they implemented this rule when it seems to punish goalies who all ready cover less space in front of the net is beyond me.

At 11:33 a.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Shane Giroux said...

pooch, that was my thought as well on the proportionate padding. There was never a reason given as to why they should do it either.

I'm guessing the trouble would be that if they don't go proportionate, there has to be an absolute maximum which could limit larger goaltenders. So going proportionate is the only real way to have a fair "max"

At 12:10 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Nick in New York said...

My favorite idea so far vis-a-vis the size of the nets is to add some height to the top of the posts. Make it more like lacross dimensions. In addition to giving people more room to shoot at, it also forces the goalie to rethink simply dropping down into the butterfly as soon as he loses sight of the puck - which opens up the low corners again as well.

At 12:17 p.m., August 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proportionate padding strikes me as discrimination of a type the smaller goalies aren't going to simply accept without a fight.

And I can't say I blame them. I think it sounds unfair.

At least if the goal is made a couple inches bigger, all goalies would be starting from the same playing field.

At 12:23 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger toqueboy said...

i think that twenty goalies over 6'3" is sorta like when comrie says he's 5'11" in a pressguide.

as a goalie if you tell people you're big they won't question your huge 'look' as much.

i'm 6'2" and have spent a lot of time around the flames and i'm easily bigger than most.

At 12:34 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger bradley said...

I think people are looking at this from the wrong perspective. The padding isn't supposed to be what's making the saves, the player is. Having them wear smaller pads, then, isn't about "punishing" them, it's about making sure everyone's on the same level, sort of. The padding is there to protect the player, not to make their job easier. Or at least that's the perspective they're probably taking. Whether it makes it tougher for smaller goalies to play is irrelevant, then, because the only consideration really would their safety. As long as they're on the same level in terms of safety, the rule would be effective and everything would be fair (from that perspective).

The way I see it, this won't have the effect of phasing out smaller goalies, per se, it'll be phasing out smaller [pure] butterfly goalies. The good talent will adjust their styles accordingly, and it'll maybe develop into a contrast between small and quick vs. big and slow (relatively), which at the very least will make things interesting. Life will go on.

At 12:40 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Doogie2K said...

I don't get why everyone's up in arms about proportional padding. A 5'10" goalie wearing the same padding as a 6'3" goalie has an unfair advantage, because that crosses the line between padding for protection and padding for its own sake.

This isn't punishing small goalies. This is levelling the playing field. And really, considering the net is only four feet tall, I fail to see how shorter goalies are at a significant disadvantage. Any weak points, like over the shoulder, will be at a different height on different goalies, but it will still exist on all goalies. A glove save is a glove save; a kick save is a kick save.

At 12:48 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

Did you catch the final line of that story about Miller's injury?

To replace Miller and Lydman, the Sabres recalled forwards Derek Roy and Jason Pominville from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

Cripes, time flies.

At 1:22 p.m., August 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotty Bowman made the best recommendation...just make the post point inward!!

How many times during a game do you hear a puck go "ping" off the post? And aren't the post always refered to as "a goalies best friend"? Why does that need to continue?

If you invert the post into a teardrop shape, shots off the post which legitimately beat the goalie now go IN !!! With this solution, there's no need to modify the equipment, change the size of the goal, amend the record books, etc. Everything stays the same and shots that count finally do count.

It amazes me how the league is not listening to one of the most intelligent hockey guys who ever had anything to do with the game.

At 1:33 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Chris Moore said...

The player should be making the save, not the equipment. Right now, for 90% of goaltenders, they don't save five hole shots, the thighrise on the pads do.

Make it proportionally sized and you will see the good goaltender stand out from the blocker.

At 4:44 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

The lacross reference is instructive. What's more boring than lacrosse? Maybe soccer.

One sports has a plethora of goals and the other has none.

What do they have in common? Goalie saves are rare.

The big save in hockey is at least as exciting as the dazzling goal. But My New NHL goaltenders are more like table-hockey goalies: they just stand there and block shots. The only way to score is to pass the puck from side to side until you catch the goalie out of position.

The saves are boring and the goals are boring.

Shrinking the pads on the midgets might help matters. But if the big goalies are allowed to stay bulky what has been accomplished?

Making the net higher so the floppers are beatable high.

What about all the rinks around Canada that'll have to invest in new nets? Go visit your gramma's house. She probably has a toilet that's raised 6-8 inches off the floor with a little booster thingy under the bowl. Some brainiac working in his garage workshop could probably come up with the equivalent for hockey nets in about a week.

At 6:53 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

But My New NHL goaltenders are more like table-hockey goalies: they just stand there and block shots... The saves are boring and the goals are boring.

This is why I don't think smaller pads or bigger nets offer that much of a solution. Sure, more goals will go in, but they'll probably not be very exciting goals. More screens, more deflections, etc.

I also think it would lead to even a further emphasis on defensive responsibility: I'd guess the league becomes even more shot-block-happy if more shots could beat a goalie.

We'll see where this goes, but I have to worry about the side effects. The league already tried several offense-friendly rules at the lockout, but by year three they've been essentially nullified by even more conservatism towards defense. I don't know why this would end up any different.

At 7:22 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Surely there's a limitation on how many shots you can block. Going down on the ice all the time or blocking lanes is rampant now, but shots still get through, and if it became more prevalent, you might seem more player simply stickhandle around it all.

If the goals were slightly larger and there was a greater chance an errant shot would go in, that would seem to make defending a bit more challenging.

At 7:32 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Sure, James, but I still think there's got to be a flipside to this offensive gem of an idea.

Maybe even more defenders hang back, maybe more emphasis is put on stacking guys on the blueline.

Now I might be perfectly wrong on this, and I'd gladly eat foot if this makes the sport more exciting. However, I'm not going to be one to expect better hockey to be played because there is more net to shoot at.

If the goals were slightly larger and there was a greater chance an errant shot would go in, that would seem to make defending a bit more challenging.

You know what coaches typically do when rule changes make defending more challenging, right? They gamble less and systematically keep more guys back.

At 7:56 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Keeping defencemen completely out of the argument for a second, isn't there a need to make the game more difficult for goaltenders? That's where the improvement has come in, if you look at the number of shots on goal against, etc., historically speaking.

It's more difficult to institute a challenge for defensive systems; why not scale the nets in a fashion that accounts for how netminders have grown? It frankly just makes logical sense.

At 8:06 p.m., August 08, 2008, Blogger itchit said...

You know what's exciting in today's NHL? 4 on 4 Overtimes! Could we just stretch 4 on 4 to the whole 3rd period? Didn't they reduce the number of coincidental penalties because Gretzky and the Oilers were scoring a ton of goals at 4 on 4? I never understood why the games' most exciting player (Gretzky) scoring exciting goals on wide open ice was ever considered a "problem". Can someone explain that to me please?
@Art Van - I humbly suggest you watch a little Soccer at the Olympics and you may change your mind. I feel there are a lot of goalie saves in soccer. In fact there has been talk for decades (centuries probably) about increasing the size of the nets in soccer because of too many saves (just like hockey).

At 8:57 p.m., August 08, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why, again, does anything need to change?

Does everyone here hate what they've seen the last few seasons?

At 9:05 p.m., August 09, 2008, Blogger Chris Moore said...

I think the biggest problem with the goaltenders in the NHL is there are a lot of goalies who are average goaltenders who are great at positioning and blocking. Take away the ability to make the same move on every shot and you rid the NHL of this type of goaltender.

At 2:13 p.m., August 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NHL needs to markedly shrink goalie equipment... all of it: leg pads, shoulder pads, gloves, pants... today's materials can stop a bullet; who cares if occasionally a goalie is injured on a play - this happens all the time to the skaters!

Players rarely score from bad angles thanks to the huge equipment... where are the Guy Lafleur slapshots, screaming down the wing & letting one go into the corner?

Decreasing the clutch & grab is great, but hockey is still often too boring with the huge goalie equipment.

Goalies are sucks.


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