NHL goalies will have to switch to more 'form-fitting' equipment in 2010-11 season

bigpadsgiguere.jpgWhen you look back at classic sports clips, every league looks a little different. Basketball players wore hilariously short shorts. NFL players went from insanely skimpy helmets to ones that are almost like today’s standard. Baseball players … well, let’s just say many of them were a lot, um, smaller.

For hockey, the most glaring difference* is the way goalies of bygone eras looked (and therefore played) compared to the bulked up versions of today. I’ll never forget how much it blew my mind to see how dramatically skinny Dominik Hasek looked when he was wearing the typical couch cushion leg pads and other various “protective” garments. Simply put, goalies wouldn’t feel safe to play butterfly styles if they sported the limited equipment of the old days, but there’s no doubt that they’d also take up a lot less of the net too. It’s a chicken-and-the-egg argument of protection vs. goal prevention that will probably restrict a full-blown change from taking effect.

That being said, Rory Boylen of The Hockey News points out that the NHL is moving to a “form-fitting” restriction for goalie pads.

The NHL 2009-10 rulebook reads that there is a 38-inch height restriction on all goalie pads. However, the form-fitting direction the NHL is moving to next season means each goalie will have his own pad dimensions, i.e., smaller goalies will have smaller pads.

Of course, some have pointed out this will negatively impact the smaller goalies much more than the bigger ones. Whereas they could wear the same sized equipment last year, next year padding will be in proportion to the goalie’s size.

Will the goalies of today ever look like the lightly protected goalies of yesteryear? Of course not. Just as it would be insane to make goalies remove their masks, it would be just as crazy to pare down equipment to that extreme. After all, padding is there to protect. It’s a natural evolution of equipment that spun out of control for goalies and became more about stopping pucks than protection. So now the NHL is finding a middle ground and reeling it back in. We’ve already seen rules put in place against the cheater pads on the glove and in the five-hole.

George Malik actually brought this story to my attention in this article, in which he explains how the rule change will affect the Detroit Red Wings goalies. What might be most interesting from a “micro” prospective is that even larger goalies will be impacted.

I talked to Thomas McCollum during the Red Wings’ prospect camp about his gear, and he said he’d lose 3/4″ off his thigh rise–and McCollum stands at 6’2″ and at least 200 lbs–so you can fully expect that everyone from Jimmy Howard to Chris Osgood will wear leg pads with shorter thigh rises, smaller chest/arm protectors, and tighter-fitting goalie pants. McCollum told me that he actually planned on wearing his now-illegal gear at the AHL level, and would only wear the legal stuff if he was called up.

The rule won’t affect Jimmy Howard too much, but Chris Osgood won’t be able to wear 38″ leg pads anymore, no way, no how.

Interesting stuff. As I’ve mentioned before, NHL general managers have been drafting Chara-esque goalies in recent years, even if the Devan Dubnyks of the world haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. In an article about that draft trend, Gary Joyce pointed out that some are trying to stay ahead of rule changes, particularly the seemingly far fetched possibility of the league enlarging the net. (My guess is that the league won’t ever have to alter the game in such a drastic way unless referees stop blowing their whistles on obstruction again.)

Later today, I’ll take a brisk look at which goalies might be hurt the most by such an equipment change. I apologize in advance to short people everywhere. There might be some new Napoleon complexes introduced to the hockey world on this seemingly innocuous Saturday in August.

* Aside from players not wearing helmets, maybe. I get a particular charge out of seeing the holdouts of the helmet-free era skating with guys who wore full protection. Macho behavior can reach some insane depths, can’t it?

Scroll Down For:

    Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

    Leave a comment

    In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

    Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

    Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.

    Video: Orpik penalized after catching Maatta with late, high hit

    26 Comments

    The Pittsburgh Penguins were without defenseman Olli Maatta for most of the first period of Game 2 after he was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.

    The hit occurred early in the first period, well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck on a rush into the Washington zone.

    Maatta, who nearly fell over as he tried to stand back up, was in obvious distress as he went to the dressing room. Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference on the play.

    Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’

    1 Comment

    It’s been 31 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs had the No. 1 overall pick at the draft.

    And, to hear team president Brendan Shanahan explain it, getting back to that top spot wasn’t easy — on anybody.

    “We earned this the hard way,” Shanahan told Sportsnet on Saturday, moments after winning the draft lottery. “It wasn’t a whole lot of fun this year, but our guys and our coaching staff and our management staff did a lot of really good things here in Toronto.

    “This [the No. 1 overall pick] will certainly help.”

    It’s easy to see why optimism is high within the organization.

    The last time Toronto had the No. 1 pick it selected Wendel Clark, who went on to become a revered player. He played for the Leafs on three separate occasions, served as team captain and now works for the organization in a public relations and community ambassador role.

    This year, the opportunity to make a similar impact is there.

    Auston Matthews, viewed as the odds-on favorite to go first overall, possesses the elite-level talent that could turn a franchise around. And there are few teams in more need of a turn than Toronto — as Shanahan alluded to, this was a very difficult year, as the Leafs finished dead last in the standings and were the only NHL club not to crack the 30-win plateau.

    Part of that was by design. The Leafs dealt away Phil Kessel prior to the season, Dion Phaneuf during it and jettisoned a host of other productive players: James Reimer, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik and Shawn Matthias, to name a few.

    By the end of the year, the Leafs were a mishmash of AHLers, spare parts and a few future pieces.

    Speaking of the future…

    Assuming the Leafs go the Matthews route, it’s expected he’ll make an immediate impact on the lineup. TSN already has him penciled in as the No. 2 center — playing the middle on a line with the club’s other top prospect, William Nylander — and Matthews’ head coach in Switzerland this season, Marc Crawford, used L.A. Kings star Anze Kopitar as a potential comparison.

    Of course, there is a chance Matthews isn’t the pick.

    Finnish sensation Patrick Laine has been making waves recently, thanks in large part to capturing SM-liiga playoff MVP honors this week. Laine has the kind of goalscoring ability and booming shot that would translate well — and, immediately — to the NHL level, though he is a winger.

    Not a center, like Matthews.

    Regardless of who the Leafs pick, this much is clear — they bottomed out this season with the intention of getting a high draft pick and, while the process was very painful at times, everything worked out in the end.

    “When you have an opportunity to pick first overall, it’s an important moment for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s an important moment for our fans,” Shanahan explained. “Our ownership group has given us the support to do this build the right way.”

    Tank you very much: Leafs win NHL Draft Lottery, retain No. 1 overall pick

    18 Comments

    The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from worst to first.

    The Leafs finished dead last in the NHL’s overall standings, giving them the best odds of winning Saturday’s draft lottery. And when the big show ended, Toronto had landed that top pick for the draft on June 24.

    Outside of Toronto, the biggest winner Saturday had to be the Winnipeg Jets. They entered the day with the sixth best odds of getting the top pick at just 7.5 per cent. They were able to move all the way up to the second overall pick, which could certainly land them a franchise player and one that could definitely be ready to make the jump into the NHL next season.

    The biggest loser? You could definitely argue it was the Vancouver Canucks. They finished 28th in the overall standings, giving them an 11.5 per cent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. But they fell all the way to fifth.

    The Edmonton Oilers? Well, they didn’t win. Had they won the lottery, it would’ve given them the first overall pick for the fifth time in seven years.

    Here is the 2016 draft order:

    1. Toronto Maple Leafs
    2. Winnipeg Jets
    3. Columbus Blue Jackets
    4. Edmonton Oilers
    5. Vancouver Canucks
    6. Calgary Flames
    7. Arizona Coyotes
    8. Buffalo Sabres
    9. Montreal Canadiens
    10. Colorado Avalanche
    11. New Jersey Devils
    12. Ottawa Senators
    13. Carolina Hurricanes
    14. Boston Bruins

    Now that the order is set, who will go No. 1, 2 and 3 in that opening round?

    Auston Matthews has long held the title as the top-ranked player heading into this draft. But there’s been increasing chatter that Finnish winger Patrik Laine has at least closed the gap between him and Matthews for that first overall selection, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.

    Meanwhile, fellow Finnish forward Jesse Puljujärvi likely rounds out the top three, following a sensational showing at the 2016 World Junior Championships.