By Rochelle Bergman
Do you remember when the goalie came out onto the ice at the beginning of the game? The thin beam of the spot light just hit him as he skated towards the net. The fans roared with cheers and glee. He looked bigger and more powerful than most players on the ice. The last defense was and is the goalie.
Things do change over time. Remember when the games had higher scores? When you saw 5 to 4 at the end of the game instead of 2 to 1. Why is that? I believe that the NHL is running into a slight scoring problem. Lower goal games — a lot of action around a net but no scoring is done. The game seems to become a tennis match, look-alike. The puck goes from one end to another with no scores in-between! Why is that?
Lower scores today are the result of most goalies being bigger overall. When the games were high-scoring, the goalies where smaller in size. Today the average size for a goalie is 6’4 to 6’6. When I was younger (in the 70s) the average size was 5’10. I guess the NHL does have a problem, there is less free space around the net to score. What can the league do to improve the rate of goals in a game?
First, the league needs to balance protection with size. The first and foremost need is to protect the goalie from the puck. This is a dangerous position when you think of the speed of a flying puck.
In the new season of 2016-17, the NHL will bring out new standards for chest protection and pant sizes. Not all people are thrilled about the timing of the new standards. It is right in the middle of the playing season! New equipment should be tested by goalies for goalies in the off-season, not in the middle of a season when every point counts. If it was done in the off-season, then all would know if the reduction of equipment was working or not. It also would give the companies that make the equipment time to change their setup. Maybe a whole goalie uniform change is due instead of piece by piece? This way it changes for once and nobody worries about it for years to come. Makes sense to me!
What happens if they shrink all the gear but size is still a problem? The talk around the water cooler contains whispers of increasing net size. This would change the game and add more rules to it. It could change the size of the rink itself. I believe the first plan of decreasing the overall gear worn by the goalie should be tried first and if that doesn’t work then, go into the long process of net size increase.