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NHL Goalies Considering More Gear Reductions

NHL Goalies Considering More Gear Reductions

As if Cory Schneider didn't already have enough on his plate after getting traded, his new role on the competition committee puts him in the middle of a debate on shrinking goalie gear for next season.  (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

As if Cory Schneider didn’t already have enough on his plate after getting traded, his new role on the competition committee puts him in the middle of a debate on shrinking goalie gear for next season. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

It appears the National Hockey League isn’t ready to accept a generic 10 per cent reduction in the top of goaltender pads as the only change to equipment for the upcoming season.

As InGoal reported last week, the NHL Players’ Association already approved a change in the maximum sizing chart allotment for each goaltender’s knee to hip measurement from 55 per cent to 45 per cent. With the average NHL goalie measuring around 20 inches, that amounts to a two-inch trim off the top of each pad and, in theory, a four-inch opening of their 5-hole.

That wasn’t enough for the NHL, which in early June also asked that new measurement be enforced separately rather than continuing as one of part of the formula for each goalie’s entire pad height. The NHL also originally asked for tighter restrictions on the width and contouring of kneepads, something the NHLPA planned to pass off to a Competition Committee sub-committee that is scheduled to meet for the first time over the next week to 10 days – likely too late for the upcoming season.

According to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, after meeting last Thursday in New York the NHL Players’ Association is still going to consider the additional goaltending equipment reduction requests for this season.

“We have the Players’ Association commitment to going back to the goaltender group on kneepads and some of the other additions that Kay Whitmore has in mind to do,” Daly said prior to taking part in a Town Hall-style event with Vancouver Canucks season ticket holders this week. “It is an ongoing process. We are going to get some movement this year with respect to goaltending equipment, but it’s going to continue to be a work in progress.”

Some manufacturers and NHL goalies expressed concern last week that it was getting too late in the summer to make some of the changes. But Daly indicated that wasn’t the case when it came to the request for smaller kneepads.

“On Kneepads, what [Whitmore] wants to do, as I understand it, is not a manufacturing issue,” Daly said. “So if we get goaltender buy-in, it is something we can actually implement for next season.”

The NHL wants to be able to specifically measure and limit the top section of kneepads, including a proposed eight-inch maximum above the top of the goalie’s landing gear or knee stack (the area on the inside edge where goalie’s knees hit when they drop down into the butterfly) in order to prevent more goalies from altering how their pads are made and worn to push more of it up their leg and into the 5-hole when they drop to the ice.

As if life in the crease isn't hard enough, Canucks goalie Cory Schneider has inserted himself in the middle of this summer debate on shrinking goalie gear. (Photo by Clint Trahan)

Cory Schneider talked to InGoal about shrinking goalie gear back in early June. (Photo by Clint Trahan)

Some goalies expressed concerns in last week’s article that the combination of shorter pads to open up the 5-hole and smaller kneepads at the same time could lead to injury. New York Rangers’ backup Martin Biron even suggested implementing the changes on New Year so goalies had time to adjust safely. Of course, the NHL could counter by pointing out their proposal on goalie equipment was first made back in early June, and there would have been more time for goalies to experiment and adjust if it hadn’t taken until mid-July to respond.

Either way, NHL goalies are getting smaller next season.

The only question left is how much.

~ For more specific details on the equipment changes, the thoughts behind them, and concerns about some of them, read last week’s story on the player’s approval of a 10 per cent thigh rise reduction, or the original story on the proposed changes, including the thoughts on new competition committee member Cory Schneider, from back in early June.

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.


  1. DSM

    Thigh rises have gotten silly, I’ll admit that. Knee protection reductions however are borderline dangerous. I realize goalies from years’ past didn’t have what we do now, but we’re not facing those shooters anymore, either. As velocity increases through stick technology and player strength, so too must protective measures implemented by goaltenders so we aren’t on crutches.

  2. Mr.bean

    the solution is don’t touch the goalie protection and just change the dimension of the goal net, more wider and higher

  3. Walks

    Sadly I think this debate is going to continue forever. But I have to agree with DSM, there comes a point where limiting some equipment is going to be dangerous, especially for professionals who are playing against guys who can shoot the puck over 100 mph.

    The NHL wants more goals but credit the position to evolution. The athleticism and style in goaltenders is like we’ve never seen before. With how every professional athlete trains now a days goalies will adjust regardless of what they try to do to increase goal scoring.

    The position is just that much better then it used to be.

  4. JP

    Changing te size of the net is not the solution. It would change the history of the game… Once Sidney Crosby broke Gretzky’s all-time goal mark, there would be an asterisk next to it the history books. Compare it to making the hoops bigger in basketball… There would be a rediculous amount of points per game… Even bench warmers would be scoring 30 points a game.
    There is nothing wrong with the game as it is. Hockey has never been a game of high scores. It’s better when it’s a low scoring affair. Great saves are just as exciting as a great goal. Games are more exciting when they are close. Take the Pitt-Philly playoff series from a few seasons ago… Those games were absolutely rediculous… They weren’t even fun to watch. And that’s what the league officials want a nightly basis. Just plane stupid.
    The league is very misguided in their ideas of reducing equipment. Reducing the height of the pads won’t increase the number 5-hole goals, if anything, it will increase the amount of goals scored in the low corners.

  5. Sandy Lapere

    I have to say that I think modifying goalie equipment for a higher scoring game is ridiculous. I thought the challenge of hockey was to score. Are goalscorers and snipers whining because the goalie’s equipement is too big and they cannot score? or do they not have enough skill to score on the modern goaltender. Leave goaltending equipment alone, and acquire better scoring skills. Enough is enough.

  6. Don S

    Changing the goalies equiptment is a bad idea. Ruining hockey. Goalies are the most skilled on the ice. They adapt and come back stronger and faster. Gaa and save % will continue you get better. I dont want to see high scoring games , they are not entertaining. Go watch rollerhockey if you really enjoy high scoring games. Zzzzz…

  7. Tom Holmes

    I also agree that the answer is not to always change the size of equipment. As the game has advanced so has the abilities and techniques of the players, on both sides of the puck. More goals does not automatically mean we will have better games to watch. Only casual viewers would think that more goals equals more excitement for the game. Tight, low scoring games are always more exciting. The goal scorers have gotten better with new equipment and so has the goalie. With better shot blocking techniques in front of the goalie we see better defensive play and lower scoring games. It is not all about the goalie. (and please don’t even think of the absurd notion to enlarge the net!)

  8. J. James

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

    You want more scoring, the get rid of the offside rule, and players blocking shots. Reducing equipment size, won’t increase scoring. I don’t wear bulky knee pads, and my pads are already at the proposed height restriction, and you’ll very seldom squeak one through the 5-hole on me when I’m in the butterfly. What makes them think that this will be any different for NHL goalies, when a beer/rec. league guy, is still able to close off his 5-hole effectively in the butterfly in equipment that meets their sizing proposal?

  9. randy

    why is the nhl so damned concerned about limiting our protection. what they should be stopping is the advancement of the players sticks, the advancement of there skates, ect.. the shots coming off these players sticks is so much faster and harder than it was with just the standard Sherwood pmp5030, couple that with better coaching, more speed and better technique and you have THE problem.. Our gear is in direct response ot harder, faster, more accurate shots! nothing eles, its self preservation.. Lets see how it would go over if sticks were limited in construction, flex, blade size, ect. or skates had to be no less than 800 grams, If the players equipment and coaching get to advance, than that montra should hold true for goalies as well..

  10. sylvain

    Why not use handball goals while they`re at it…I certainly agree with all comments so far!

  11. Michael

    Remember the league is run by a guy that used to run the NBA where high scoring games were so important that they all have but eliminated the traveling rule. Now players pretty much can run with the ball instead of dribbling it like they are supposed to. I agree that no one ever credits the increase in skill and athleticism that goalies have over years past yet marvel and go on and on about the skills of offensive players. Kids grow up WANTING and training to be goalies from a young age not being forced to be goalies because they are poor skaters or have poor stick skills.

  12. Mike Adams

    I think that the NHL should reduce the pads or increase the goal. The idea of an asterisk next to a scoring record is absurd… Do we put an asterisk next to the name of a goalie who might break a record of the greats in the past? The height and width of pads are ridiculous — WAY past borderline on that one!

  13. TJ Bova

    So tired of the league saying every 5-8 years they need to modify goalie equipment because they want to increase scoring. You want more scoring? Stop paying players like Brandon Prust $4 Million a year to score 5 goals. Yes I know his role is that of a grinder, and don’t get me wrong, I love the whole grinding physical aspect of hockey, but if you want high scoring games, you gotta have only skill players, and turn it into a finesse league. That’s really the long and short of it. Goalies (and all NHL players) are so much more athletic and dedicate their entire life to being the best athlete they can be. You don’t see these guys burning a smoke in between periods or going to eat at Wendy’s when they’re not at the rink. These guys are machines, prime physical specimens, unlike some of the other major sports where its an advantage to be a fat slob, or it just doesn’t matter (come on CC Sabathia, the fact that you’re called an athlete and you look like you’re 6 months pregnant is absurd). But whatever, the NHL will do what it wants, and just like after the last equipment reduction, goaltenders will evolve and be as good as they are now, maybe even better

  14. Bob, the goalie

    I agree with all the comments about the technological advances in out player skates, equipment and sticks. Lighter, more protective and more resilient. The players are bigger, faster and stronger also. Goaltender’s equipment has come a long way since the 60’s and 70’s, but can the mask of the future protect the goalie that has to face shots at 110, 120… Mph??? Masks have been tested successfully from a structural standpoint with shots fired at 160 mph in a laboratory while being worn by a stationary mannequin head. Seriously? Well, you’ll see screens disappear. Human subjects have been hit in the mask during tests multiple times with shots from other players with sticks at about half the speed. I like the idea of the clear face shield they are developing now. Johnny Bauer tried one back in the 50’s. My point? Shots don’t need to get much harder. More often than not, when a NHL goalie gets hit in the head with a shot during a game, you can see that it has affected him. Keep scoring goals the old fashion way. Shoot, follow your shots and collapse around the goalie. Deflections work well too. Fancy stick handling seems to be more dazzling these days. I think it’s because of the penalty shots as a tie breaker.
    The NHL has had one good idea though. Reducing the 40″ pad to 38″ was the smartest thing they ever did. Most goalies couldn’t skate effectively in a 40″ pad anyway. Now they are talking about a rise height of 45% to the hip instead of 55%. So what’s wrong with “paddle down”? The 11” pad width is fine. Oversized knee pads were a bad idea. As far as I’m concerned, they hindered pad movement. Leave the pads the way they are now. Don’t change the gloves. The blocker today is about half the size of the one in the 50’s. Don’t make the goal bigger. Try the game without off sides. You could go to 4 a side, but I don’t think that would be in the best interest of the game. If the players get much bigger and faster, you could go to the Olympic size rink. The game is starting to look like human pinball now anyway. Bring back the plexi glass boards too. Fans would find the game a lot more exciting. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, larger rinks mean less seats and glass boards mean less advertising. Take all that away from the owners and the game would be destroyed. You could do what they’re doing in Europe now. Every Square inch of the is ice covered with advertising. How do their goalies play their angles? It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.

  15. GoAVS

    I say smaller glove and blocker, but not cut so much off the leg pads. Also narrower chest pads.

  16. the doctor

    it is so funny to think that smaller equipment will increase the goals ….. team now days play ” NOT TO LOOSE” instead of play ” TO WIN ” lot of teams dont want to take chances and waiting for either OT or shoot out ……. make the teams play for win!!!! how ? make 3 point for win in regulations…… 2 points for every other win..( OT or shoot out ) then u will see more scoring cause if you would like to catch team ahead of you in standings u HAVE to get 3 points….. that will open up the game and teams would not be able to rely on the ” TRAP SYSTEM ” all the time like they do in this era!!!!! it will make them do more up and down hockey with more scoring chances and eventually more goals

  17. Rick

    The root issue is that goalies are physically bigger. Increase the span of the net 5″ and you will restore offense to the game.