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Kay Whitmore Discusses Lack of Scoring in the NHL

Kay Whitmore Discusses Lack of Scoring in the NHL

Former NHL goaltender Kay Whitmore was a guest on Sportsnet’s Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown on Thursday afternoon to discuss the downward trend in goal scoring.

Whitmore currently serves as the league’s goaltending supervisor, and his duties include inspecting NHL goaltending gear, as well as advising league executives on what changes should be made.

The discussion began with Whitmore outlining some of the equipment changes that have already been made, why they made the changes, and said that most goaltenders were originally very upset with the idea of shrinking their gear.

“If you ask Corey Crawford, or a couple other guys that called me with some not very nice things to say, it was a big difference. Two and a half inches off each pad, they thought it was a big concern. We thought it would make a some more pucks go through the five hole, or at least more challenging to make the saves.”

After some initial resistance, a lot of goaltenders actually started to benefit from the smaller gear. Goalies became faster, more agile, and started making saves that they could not make with larger equipment.

“Over time the style of goaltender was developed where the game got slow, and you became a blocker and just took away space and tried to fill net. Some of these guys, when they realized that their equipment was smaller, they were faster, they were quicker. They got from A to B faster, and now they started making some saves that they weren’t making before.”

Despite the tweaks, shutouts are up 12% and the league average save percentage continues to creep up year after year. When asked about what is next for the NHL when it comes to restricting equipment size, Whitmore offered an idea of what to expect.

“It always comes back to the size of the goaltender. Do I get a little defensive? Yeah. We’ve tried to make some changes. Can we do more? Absolutely. I think there’s still some room to be done with the pants and the upper body area. We’re still using old models that aren’t incorporating space-age technology, because nobody wants to give up coverage. The debate between coverage and protection – we have got to dig deeper.”

Pants, chest and arm pieces, and knee pads are three crucial areas that goalies cover extra space with equipment, but it walks a fine line with protection. If you remove padding from any of those areas, more injuries are likely to be the result.

Where do you stand on the issue of goaltender equipment size in the NHL?

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.

12 Comments

  1. Dhomski

    I think they need to leave the equipment the way it is. These NHL players already shoot hard enough, and removing shoulder floaters or large knee pads or bulky pants are only going to increase the possibility of a serious injury due to puck impact. Lundqvist got hit in the shoulder floater a few years ago and it incapacitated him for a few seconds, imagine that same shot without the beefy shoulder floaters.

  2. Karl Gronqvist

    Maybe it’s time to increse the shooting and scooring practice insted of blaming all on large pads!

  3. stiney

    I feel catchers, blockers and pads are all fair game. Leave the upper body gear alone. A few years back I replaced my chest protector with one much larger, it drastically cut down the number of arm and chest stingers and I’m just playing for fun. Unless they’ve invented new protection that’s revolutionary and has no seams for good hard shots to sneak through, leave them as they are. Vast improvement in protection is gained from the size.

    • jimmy

      there are bomb suits in use all over the world that is smaller than tender gear. Get rid of it. It’s boring to watch these days.

  4. Al

    1 goalies are making saves that they were not with the bigger Gear… 2 athletes are bigger, taller stronger quicker. Now the gear is made smaller and the goalies are getting better. who caused this Kay? You have created a monster space-age technology has to do with weight of the product not the girth. so the product is thinner does it cover the net. I heard your Pod cast it seems to me you want to keep your job the gear isn’t good enough after YOUR changes. maybe the Uncle Tom Attitude and the problems lie with you go back to the big stuff and the guys cant move.. there is a contradiction with your thinking. If I was in charge of the Players Association I would fight your changes until my demise, your way off base.. Players shoot harder and faster, and are more skilled. You want goalies to be better and learn their craft but condemn them when their save % is above 930. the Goalies in Europe don’t have modification rules and seem not to have a problem with their attendance. A Parting thought Its not the new approved Gear that’s the problem its the Problem solvers…

    • james

      Is this english? None of it makes any sense. But its great to watch 2-1 shootout games with tenders that just go butterfly on every save like a punch drunk boxer. What happened to reaction saves, or having skill?

  5. Robert

    Kay needs to look at all the additional padding regular players have added to help them block shots. Extra protection on the skates, padding added to the back of the gloves. It has made it so that blocking shots is expected of everyone on the team. Maybe part of the problem is there are five additional “goalies” on each team.

  6. Rhawk

    Is this really a surprise? Look at how tall and big some of the goalies are! Bishop is 6’7′ for example. They are are just going to take up more room no matter what they wear. Add to that they now work on skating, conditioning and technique way more than they did in years past and you get very good athletes instead of the plugs you see from years past. Just go look at videos from the 80’s and 70’s and compare those goalies to current ones. Not mention teams systems and defensive play have greatly improved over time as well.

  7. Joe Feeney

    The shots are not that much harder than they were 30 years ago, and the equipment is far superior! THe shot Ludquist was stung by did not hit the floater, but his collar bone. There is a lot that can be done with equipment, though smaller pads do allow much quicker movement. There does not need to be a formula, this is HOCKEY NOT ALGEBRA! Pads can go back to 10 inches wide as they were until the 1990’s, blockers should have a set amount of blocking surface, including the so called thumb protection(which is just another blocker on the inside of the glove). and pants can have measurements for width and other coverage.

    With in these limits there is plenty of space to place protection with plating, foams and other padding. Your a GOALIE, expect to get stingers, and bruises, this is part of the job. If you don’t like it try blocking shots with the little stuff defensemen and forwards get.

    In addition, the measurements should never be done with any warning! any measurement should be done in a spur of the moment way, like La Crosse, and there should be severe penalties if a goalie is caught using illegal equipment.

  8. Niel

    Goaltending equipment size is not the issue, it’s the suffocating defensive styles NHL teams have adopted since the heyday of the trap in the 90s. Want proof? Watch the Allstar Games. No D = tons of scoring.

  9. Rich

    Leave the equipment alone. Goalers today are giants. I think it’s simple, go to a larger net. Say 4’6″ X 6’6″.

  10. Riley

    A few days ago when I first saw this article I thought the shoulderpads could be tapered, but recently I just had a bad bruise on my rotator cuff from a hard shot, I’ve realized that it’s certainly necessary to have this bulky gear; with the composite sticks they have now people just shoot far too hard.