Do White Pads Give Goalies An Edge?
Do white pads give goalies an edge? On Tuesday, Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Michael Hutchinson weighed in on the question in a series of tweets.
After posting pictures of himself in a new set of navy pads, Hutchinson received a number of replies to the effect that the darker colored pads appeared smaller than his white ones. He noted that they were actually half an inch taller and appeared smaller in part because he had them strapped differently, so that “[they] sit lower on my skate.”
As for the idea that white gear simply looks bigger, Hutchinson doesn’t buy that:
— Michael Hutchinson (@mhutch34) August 9, 2016
For those who aren’t able to see the image here, Hutchinson notes that all pads are made the same way, regardless of color. White pads aren’t any bigger by virtue of their color, and to shooters at the level he’s playing at, it doesn’t matter anyway.
“They know exactly where the net is and where the corners to pick are,” he writes. “It doesn’t matter if you wear white gear or dark gear, professional shooters are going to hit their spots.”
It is a good point. The color of your gear doesn’t make you faster or slower and all NHL gear is manufactured to NHL specifications. White gear is not actually covering any more net.
A number of goalies and goaltending coaches, however, note that white gear may give a benefit in a slightly different way: by forcing shooters to find the nearly all white net behind nearly all white pads. In other words, darker gear makes it easier to quickly discern where the equipment ends and the open net starts, so maybe wearing white really can slow a shooter down just a tiny bit. After all, hockey is as much a game of milliseconds as it is of inches.
Karen Muncey, CEO of Dynamic Edge Sports Vision Training, told the Toronto Star in 2013 that it seems logical white pads would be an advantage over darker ones:
“It all goes back to that fact that if you’re presenting a dark outline, it gives (scorers) a much better place to not shoot,” Muncey told the Star. “If the pads are dark, they’re going to aim at the holes. So if you present them with a white pad or a little bit of a grey line that mimics the net behind them, with that fast rush up they have much less time to concentrate on the five-hole or other holes that are being presented.”
When Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ditched his trademark yellow pads in 2008 it was because an Ottawa optometrist pointed out yellow is the most sensitive colour for the human eye, meaning it was easiest for shooters to see where his equipment ended and the net opened. Fleury returned to yellow pads in 2014-15 for special events and to wear with Pittsburgh’s third jerseys, but some still see colour as a disadvantage. In fact, some goalies, goalie coaches and even NHL teams won’t use colored pads at all, citing this reason.
Then again, other goalies think they get quicker whistles in dark equipment because referees have a harder time finding the puck in their black gear.
So what do you think, InGoal readers? Does white gear give you an edge or not?