It looks like the National Hockey League will have to be satisfied with a generic two-inch average reduction in the height of goalie pads.
According to sources familiar with the ongoing equipment discussions, the NHL Players’ Association has balked at the League’s request to add a separate eight-inch maximum for each goalie’s thigh rise, meaning the already agreed to 10 per cent reduction in knee-to-thigh allowance will remain part of the three-part formula already used to determine the maximum total pad height for each individual goaltender.
As InGoal first reported in mid-July, the Players’ Association agreed to reduce that maximum knee-to-thigh allowance from 55 to 45 per cent. With the average NHL measurement from the center of the knee to the hip around 20 inches, that effectively means a two-inch reduction in maximum pad size, and as much as a four-inch increase in the 5-hole since most goalies use the tops of their pads to close this area when they drop to the ice.
The NHL, however, also wanted to add a separate maximum for the thigh rise, which is the area of the pad that rises above the top of the knee, or the kneestack that goalies land on when they drop to the butterfly. That’s because some goaltenders and manufacturers have come up with creative ways to more more of the total allowable pad height up the goalie’s leg – and into the 5-hole when they drop – by changing how they strap up the pad and where the kneestack is located.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told InGoal in a July 25 report that the Players’ Association was considering additional goalie equipment changes from the League. And while there is still a chance they will consider an request for narrower, more contoured kneepad restrictions this season – there is another meeting with a group of goalies planned for late August – the attempt to make thigh rises a separate enforceable measurement will have to wait for the 2014-15 season.
That means goalies can finally order pads for this season confident they’ll be legal. Indeed, New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist, who talked to InGoal earlier this summer about the need to get his new sizing by early August, already posted a picture of his new Bauer pads through his Twitter and Instagram accounts:
As for the kneepads, with close to two dozen NHL goalies wearing larger, multi-layered, custom-made models from Switzerland, don’t be surprised is the Players’ Association also balks at a reduction for this season because of the shortage of time to adjust and a fear of more exposed knees with the already shorter pads. But expect the NHL’s push for smaller knees and thigh rises – and reductions in chest-and-arm units – continues next summer.