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Shrink the Goalies

Posted 11:19 PM ET | Comments 7
Roberto Luongo mockingly threatened to retire if the NHL were to enlarge the size of the goals. In fact, Luongo is indirectly the reason the league is even considering the move.

The league is seeking ways to increase scoring. There are many reasons for the decline in scoring compared to the '70s and '80s. When it comes to goalies, today's netminders benefit from better coaching, conditioning and equipment. That is a natural evolution of the sport.

Furthermore, goalies have simply gotten bigger. When a shooter skates in on goal, there is often about as much open space as an elephant would find in a phone booth.

Luongo is an excellent example of the growth in the crease. The Vancouver goalie is listed as 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds.

The top 10 NHL goalies last season, based on goals against average, averaged 6-foot and 195 pounds. Of the top 20, the shortest ones were Vesa Toskala, now with Toronto, and St. Louis' Manny Legace, both 5-foot-10.

To compare that to the goalies of yesteryear, look at the NHL's list of career shutout leaders (minus active goalies), a list populated by the game's best goalies such as Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Jacques Plante, and Tony Esposito. Those top 10 averaged 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds.

The growth evolution shows no signs of stopping. Ben Bishop, a St. Louis Blues prospect, stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 210 pounds. If Bishop were to lay prone on the ice across the goalmouth, the only way to stickhandle around him would be to skate to the sideboards.

If Bishop becomes the norm then the NHL would have to enlarge the nets again to such proportions that it would prompt Luongo to retire faster than Don Cherry can spit out his praise for his beloved dog, Blue.

Here's a thought to maintain continuity in goaltending while the league gets bigger and bigger. Reduce the size of goalie equipment to yesteryear standards and then leave them restricted at fixed dimensions no matter how big goalies become.

Goalie pads, for example, could shrink by nearly half in width and height by using the old dimensions. Today's standards for goalie equipment are too big, thus allowing goalies to impersonate knights with oversized armor.

The modern goalie equipment is lighter and better, so asking the goalies to go back to the equipment dimensions used back in the '70s and '80s would not compromise safety or performance for average-sized goalies.

However, taller and bigger players would be discouraged from becoming goalies because the equipment dimensions might not provide adequate protection. Those players would be welcome to line up on the blue line alongside the likes of 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara, or play up front alongside the likes of 6-foot-5 Michal Handzus.

This concept is analogical to horse racing where the weight limit on horses makes the sport predisposed to jockeys who are short in height, thus light in weight. This is not to suggest the NHL adopt this extreme standard in order to populate the net with small people, but to point out that the horse racing industry's steadfast adherence to the weight limit helps maintain a consistent frame of reference in the performance (i.e. race times) through the decades.

The NHL has stood by its rink dimensions of 200 feet by 85 feet. The same should go for the dimensions of the net. If the league tries to rationalize a change in net size, it is opening the door for another enlargement in, say, 50 years, to accommodate further evolution in the size of goalies.
Filed Under:   NHL   Goalies   Equipment  
November 13, 2007 1:37 AM ET | Delete
Good blog and intriguing ideas. Our 3rd in line, Pekka Rinne is listed at 6'5" and 207 lbs. Maybe they could shrink equipment dimensions somewhat while maintaining protection. I don't want to see the NHL do anything that would necessarily keep larger goalies out of the game.
November 13, 2007 1:56 AM ET | Delete
great ideas hall real entertaining blog buddyFlamestr
November 13, 2007 8:24 AM ET | Delete
November 13, 2007 8:31 AM ET | Delete
You want to cut the width of the goalie pads in half? From 11" to 5 1/2"-6" width? You are a complete IDIOT to even suggest such a ridiculous idea. Maybe down to 10" and not allow the thigh rise that some goalies have, but to cut the width in half as you suggested is beyond absurd.And then do things to discourage certain players from playing goal? I really think your ideas are from another planet. GET REAL... The game has changed... The goalies are fantastic athletes, have their own coaches and don't deserve these insane ideas to help forwards who now get to improve their shot by 15 mph simply by using a composite stick.Thank GOD the NHL doesn't think like you do. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
November 13, 2007 8:51 AM ET | Delete
Games are already ending 6-5 .. This is retarded ... What is the purpose of the Goalie if you leave all that room for the players to score ... The players are so talented that having smaller equipment will make the game to much like lacrosse with 13-10 games .... Than ALL goalies will look like crap and no record will ever be touched ... Shootouts will be impossible .... Bettman is destroying our game and I hope MOST goalies retire if this comes into play so it ruines the whole NHL ... Games are already ridiculus in scoring .... The pads went from 12" to 11" .. Making the equipment smaller will only make the game worse ... The difference between now and yesteryear is that the players are 110% more talented, protected, and way more advanced in skill and technique .... If the NHL continues to change the game .. their wont be much of one anymore .. I myself will stop supporting and watching
November 13, 2007 9:53 AM ET | Delete
As a former goalie myself, I was astounded by the improvement in equipment from my teen-age years to when I strapped on "new" pads in my late 30's. It's my opinion that limiting pad and blocker width to 10 inches (the rules those HOF goalies played by) would be possible. Eliminate the "cheater" on the catching glove... it's still possible to protect the goalie's wrist without adding all that extra width!Goalies (as a group) will continue to have the advantage of being able to practice at game speed without the threat of injury... something the "old-timers" couldn't do! Back in the day, "body" saves HURT!!! Modern chest/arm protection allows any goalie to play the puck off his chest without fear. Losing that half-inch of width of leg pads might even bring the slapper from the wing back into vogue!
November 13, 2007 5:10 PM ET | Delete
It's pretty obvious that goaltenders have taken advantage of the system by enlarging their equipment beyond that which is required to protect them. They are using the equipment to block as much of the goal as possible. How many players can score from more than 40 feet if the goalie has no screen? How many could in 1980? Now every goal is a mad scramble in front of the net or a screen shot. Be realistic. Protect the goalies, but leave SOME of the net to shoot for. You can't tell me with all the advances in personal armor that they can't make goalie equipment that doesn't have them looking like the Michelin Man.
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