Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL goalie equipment saga continues

The NHL has been trying to decrease the size of goalie equipment for years now in order to increase scoring around the league. This has lead to a rollercoaster of announcements and delays that ultimately began all the way back in 2016. The conversation is back on the table now, as Elliotte Friedman announced yesterday that new goalie chest protectors are on the horizon for the 2018-19 NHL season.

History of equipment changes

First, let’s take a look back at how this all began and the timeline that followed:

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Summer 2011 – NHL implements rule restricting the height of a goalie’s pad to only come 55% up their thigh.

March 2016 – NHL announces big changes will be coming to goalie equipment in the upcoming season. They admitted a full-scale change would not happen, but confirmed that pants would be smaller.

August 2016 – In an interview with Kevin Woodley, Jason Gregor discovered that no goaltenders have been told anything regarding new                  equipment.

February 2017 – NHL implements rule change to decrease goalie pants size

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May 2018 – NHL announces that goalie chest protector changes are coming next season.

???? – NHL implements smaller goalie chest protectors


I’m a little more confident that the NHL will actually have this sorted out by training camp this time around because they have more time to work with. They also have some practice with this as they just finished the change in goalie pants not too long ago.

Although there are no formal details released yet (we should hear more later in the summer), I think reducing chest protector size will be a pretty straight-forward process. The main goal here is to remove the extra padding that’s sticking outside of the goalies body for no apparent reason. See the shoulder flaps below on Henrik Lundqvist.

Although I’m against how gung-ho a lot of people are about reducing the size of goalie equipment, there is definitely room for the NHL to decrease the size of the chest pads without compromising the safety of the equipment. Cory Hirsch’s Sportsnet segment below is a prime example of people being too gung-ho about this movement.

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Yes, the NHL should take steps to remove unnecessary equipment used for taking up room instead of protecting themselves. However some suggestions by Hirsch below are way too extreme in my opinion. For example, making the sticks shorter and flattening the blocker have nothing to do with unnecessary blockage. If this was the case, it’s completely unfair that the league would make goaltenders, who work their whole lives to develop their game, to have to re-learn how to play the position due to a few equipment changes. They already had to adjust with the smaller pads in 2011, the NHL should be looking at ways outside the goalie crease to increase scoring. For example, removing the trapezoid? Or removing the offside rule?

Moving forward

Despite my dissatisfaction with the league picking on the goalies, I do think that if they HAD to make some equipment changes, the pants and chest protectors are a good start. They are the two pieces that have the most extra pieces that are strictly meant to take up room in the net.

I have a feeling we might see some changes to the goalie gloves after this chest protector fiasco is finished up. This will be challenging as current goalies already get hurt from taking shots to the hands, so they need to be careful to make sure that equipment changes don’t compromise the safety of the gear. After that, despite some small changes to goalie pads, I can’t see any more areas needed for improvement. The NHL is going to run out of ways to punish the goalies, and will need to start looking elsewhere in the game in their efforts to increase scoring.


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  • What-a-Mike

    I am total agreement that goalies have cheated with their equipment far too long. I remember looking at many players who cheated with leg pad sizes to shoulder pads to such as like Lundquist just above (shoulder pads), Garth Snow (just about everything he wore), Patrick Roy (Jerseys/Gloves for sure), even Hirsch himself. I rember back in the 70.s to early 90’s where goaltending was actually relied upon athletics, skills, etc., not over-sizes of equipment. I am not only in total favor of full equipment downsize changes for goaltenders, I want to see the FAKE goaltender interference gone (especially with refs also calling diving on many of the goalies), and I wish to see the back trapezoid gone and return the goalies being ok to check and hit legitimately/legally if when totally out of there goal blue zones. I can remember not only back in the olden days of when goalies were hit and checked but the full excitement not also watching them try to get back in their nets without being scored on. Goals scored were up in those past years and it was totally fun to see that type action going on. And get rid of that damn stupid fight instigating rule…totally ridiculous rule benefitting dirty players like Getzlaf, Kesler, Burrows, Clutterbuck, etc.

  • Himynameistaylor

    This actually really only helps goalies. Removing certain parts out of the chest protector helps with mobility and is a marginal “loss”. I’m not bothered, and as a goalie myself I look forward to the adjustments.

    • TruthHurts98

      This 100 times over! If the NHL cared about more goal scoring they would crack down on the blatant obstruction. But then Connor would score too much more than any other player in the league and it would be balanced enough. Can’t have that!

  • TruthHurts98

    Just call all the dam obstruction and the game would be so much faster AND produce more goals. NHL players (most of them) have such good shots already. True some of the equipment is unnecessarily big but goal scoring would go up if a lot of interference in the game was called. And do away with the offside replays unless the review is one minute or less! NHL says they want more scoring but already call back a ton of goals. Why even have linesmen then? Just have a computerized buzzer that beeps when players of offside. Just kidding. Being a goalie too I don’t think these changes will have much effect. Bigger equipment slows us down anyway.

  • Bobnett

    Let’s see
    1) Smaller goalie equipment. Especially upper body and catching glove.
    2) No trapezoid. Goalie outside crease is just another player, able to hit and be hit.
    3) Wooden sticks. MLB has never gone away from wooden bats and it has maintained consistency in the game.

    • Serious Gord

      Re: 1 – Make pads shorter and two inches narrower

      2. Don’t let goalies skate behind the goal line – make defense men come back and play the puck – that will make the trap far harder to execute.

      3. That would be very hard to make happen though I am not opposed to it. It is worth noting that metal bats in baseball first were taken up because they were cheaper / didn’t break not that they hit balls farther.

      The exact opposite is the case in hockey.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Hmm, the league rule changes have made the game tough for big guys like Luch to compete, I wonder if big slow goalies will have a difficult time if the equipment gets small enough. Athletics may make a comeback in that position.

  • Serious Gord

    Why is reasonable reductions of goalie equipment- removing anything that is not required for protection “gung Ho”?

    Getting equipment back closer to what was the norm thirty years ago it a reasonable objective.

  • Leaking5w-30

    I don’t think reducing equipment size will have much of an effect on scoring. I’d vote to restrict when goalies can freeze the puck (aka make it a delay of game to freeze the puck when its on the ice outside the blue paint)…. more loose pucks = more exciting play around net and more goals

  • grumpyKoala

    Goalie myslef. The extra flaps need to go but most of others things are not as bad as you think. Remove the shoulder ones then the goalie will need to adapt to a higher stance therefore giving up space in lower area. The trapezoid space also need to go but not in the way you think of. Remove it and let goalie play the puck in the corners again. They will make mistakes that cost goals. I do agree that goalie should not be special snowflakes outside of theirs crease. Light contact allowed, no tripping or unnecessary roughness but that about it. Lone gone are the days where the goalies cheated with everything from flaps on the glove to stitched underarm oversized jersey. The real evil is obstruction and circonstancial reffing.

    Not a big fan of switching long change from 2nd to 1st and 3rd, but that would be better to revert to the days that goalie where looking like aspergus in a fry pan

  • 0W-20

    “Despite my dissatisfaction with the league picking on the goalies…” Are you high? Absofreakinglutely should GK equipment be shrunk to not protrude beyond body contours and be fitted to size. League should have taken action years earlier before the Jabba the Hutt approach to netminding became en vogue.

  • No I in Team.


    This comment: “The NHL is going to run out of ways to punish the goalies,” makes you a tool.

    Goalies have been cheating with their equipment for ages.

    Why not just eliminate the position all together and replace the net with a 1′ x 1′ box to shot the puck in instead.