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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:

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

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

???? – NHL implements smaller goalie chest protectors

Thoughts

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.

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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