x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

NHL: sizing up the problem with goaltenders' equipment

Wiser minds now see that some changes to the pads have become a competitive advantage for goalies, who are seeking a total eclipse of the net.

Edmonton Oilers' goalie Nikolai Khabibulin may have to use smaller equipment next season.
Edmonton Oilers' goalie Nikolai Khabibulin may have to use smaller equipment next season.

If you watch hockey and think the goaltender looks more like a tool shed than a human, you are not in the minority.

The league's general managers met last week to review potential rule changes and unanimously passed along to the competition committee a recommendation to reduce the size of goalie equipment.

Over recent decades, goaltenders have added masks, helmets and thicker padding in the interests of safety.

Wiser minds now see that some changes to the pads have become a competitive advantage for goalies, who are seeking a total eclipse of the net.

Even the NHL's goaltending supervisor, Kay Whitmore, a former goalkeeper, noted that the intent is that "knee pads cover body parts, not space."

Although each goalie's height is measured to legally tailor him to his equipment, the increasingly boxy padding can remind one of a six year old wearing his father's clothes.

The 10-person competition committee (five appointed by management, five appointed by the players union) will meet early this summer, but, in the wake of the lockout, its positions have not been filled, yet.

At least seven members must approve any rule change before it gets sent to the board of governors for final say.

Unless the players union appoints four active goalies to the competition committee, expect the equipment, and the advantage, to shrink.

sports@thenational.ae

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