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?

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    ‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

    Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

    His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

    It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

    He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

    His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

    “It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

    Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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    The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

    On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

    The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

    “Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

    “We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

    Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.

    Mitchell signed PTO with Blue Jackets — shortly after getting cut by Blackhawks

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    When the Chicago Blackhawks announced their roster moves yesterday, John Mitchell was among the cuts.

    His professional tryout with the Blackhawks had come to an end, as it did for veterans Mark Stuart and Drew Miller.

    It can be an uphill battle to make an NHL roster for veterans on professional tryouts. But for Mitchell, he quickly received another opportunity to attend a camp and try to land a spot, signing a PTO with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Mitchell, 32, has appeared in 548 NHL regular season games with 70 goals and 177 points.

    Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still without forward and restricted free agent Josh Anderson, as the two sides are stuck in a contract impasse right now. It was reported on Thursday that his representatives have been in contact with Hockey Canada about the 2018 Olympics.

    Calgary mayor: ‘Errors of omission’ in Flames arena proposal

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    On Thursday, the Calgary Flames released a report claiming they were prepared to contribute $275 million for a new arena, with additional funding — in the ball park of $225 million — from a Community Revitalization Levy.

    On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the proposal and the events of yesterday.

    “I wouldn’t say dishonesty. I would, however, say that there are perhaps some errors of omission,” Nenshi told reporters, according to Global Calgary, when asked if there had been a level of dishonesty from the Flames with their proposal.

    The Flames not only released a report with financial details to their website, but they also took out ads in local newspapers. Nenshi took issue with the details the Flames released yesterday.

    “What was in that ad was not actually what the last deal on the table with the city was,” he said.

    “For example, yesterday you saw that the Flames’ owners are claiming that they’re putting $275 million up front. Makes it sound like a (check) is being put on the table. Certainly that has not been discussed. That would’ve really changed things had that been the discussion.

    “The discussion, the last I saw, was the Flames were putting $100 million in and the rest would be a ticket tax, which they wanted the city to take out, to get for and to front. I’m not quite sure how that equals the Flames putting in money up front.”

    Yesterday, the Flames added in their report that, after two years of discussions with the city about a new arena, they will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary.

    The Flames currently play at the Saddledome, which is now 34 years old.