I’ve been wanting to write this piece for a couple of years now, but never had enough to write about. Not that this one will be upwards of 2,000 words or anything, but I can make it long enough and make it look like an actual respectable piece of writing….for me anyway…
So the NHL has been looking at ways in recent years to make life more difficult for goaltenders. And they’re talking about all these different things they could do. How it is so difficult to downsize their gear I have no clue. It is not a protection issue, they’re all plenty protected. I believe the issue with goaltenders is some of them are worried that if some real restrictions come in on things like blocker, glove and pad size that their numbers will significantly decrease.
But the PA should be fighting for the best interest of the players, and the best interest of the players is to have the most entertaining brand you can put on the ice so revenues go way up and in that salaries would go way up. If it is easier to score, it’ll limit how much teams can sit back and there for make a more entertaining game. Why are 60 out of 700 plus players running the show on this?
Anyway, so goaltenders fight tooth and nail on ANYTHING the league tries to do to lessen the gear. The one thing that the league could do which goaltenders likely wouldn’t have any argument for is restricting the mainly white equipment. However, this is completely lost on the league. How? I have no clue, other than it’s the NHL and they’re terrified to make any changes to their game in the interest of entertainment.
But what could the goaltenders say? That wouldn’t be a safety concern. I don’t know that it would help a ton, but it would help. You do notice a difference when goaltenders wear white gear and when they wear dark stuff. It obviously doesn’t make them bigger, but they look bigger. It also blends in with the mesh making it more difficult to see how much net a shooter has to work with.
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I really believe these guys are being told by their organizations that they have to wear white. If there is one thing I’ve figured out about goaltenders over the years is that they’re a pretty stylish bunch. Look at what most of them do for the outdoor games. They get new gear, and none of it is plain old white. It seems to me like the shackles are taken off for those one off’s. Not everyone does it (goaltenders hate breaking in new gear), but a lot of them do.
The Florida Panthers are the only team as far as I can tell who might not have this rule. Tim Thomas this season has pads that are mainly red. Scott Clemmenson a few years ago had the same thing going on. Jonas Hiller might not have restrictions in Anaheim, and he especially didn’t in the outdoor game when he wore his orange Koho’s. But for the large majority, I really believe organizations are telling these guys that they have to wear white. And maybe for most goaltenders, they don’t have to be told. They probably want to wear white to get that edge.
In doing research for this piece, I stumbled across an article from the Toronto Star last March that did a WAY better job than I ever could. I wanted to find the article from the Pittsburgh Gazette which told the story of how Marc-Andre Fleury was specifically told to switch from his yellow pads, to white pads and how his numbers got dramatically better. They give you that, and a whole lot more:
Now, whether you just read that or not I don’t know, but if you didn’t they do in fact point out that Kay Whitmore from the NHL has taken notice of this issue, but that it’s not on the table. HOW?!?!?! Are you THAT dumb??? I would love to hear ONE good reason why the NHL, who claim they are always looking at ways to increase scoring and put a more entertaining product on the ice for it’s fans, would avoid doing anything about this….ONE.
I can understand it for minor hockey or for that matter anyone who has to purchase their own gear. Different teams means different colors and white will go with all the different uniforms. You want to have gear that goes with the uniforms and kids can’t be changing their gear every year to keep up with whatever team they play on next.
But for multi millionaire’s who likely don’t have to pay for their gear, this is insane. It takes personality right out of the game. At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I was raised on goaltenders like Felix Potvin, Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Bill Ranford, Curtis Joseph, Tevor Kidd, Damian Rhodes, Kelly Hrudy, and on and on and on who were goaltenders who at least on the ice had a ton of personality. And they were goaltenders who made saves, not just blocked shots. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that the style of how you play the position has changed dramatically from those days, I get that. But the personality can still be there. You could tell Cujo apart from all the other goaltenders.
Today, when they put on their stuff, if they all had on the same jersey you can’t tell one from another! Optically it’s terrible. And I just can’t for the life of me figure out why the NHL wouldn’t be looking to change this? If goaltenders have more personailty, then they’re more marketable. If white gear does help (and obviously it does when everyone is wearing it), then get rid of it if you actually want to try to find way’s to increase scoring. Otherwise, quit telling everyone that you want to increase scoring.
Might not seem like a big deal, and might not do much of anything to increase scoring in the NHL. But it can’t hurt in anyway. Manufacturers want this rule changed, I’m sure skaters would like this rule change, there is no safety reason to not do it, yet the league….as always…just can’t seem to get something that should be so simple and easy, correct.
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