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?