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Mike's Miscellany™ Vol. IV - Summer Boredom Edition

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In an effort to keep you all bored out of your minds over the course of the weekend and summer, I’ve got a ridiculously long and technical post for ya.  The following is a memo circulating amongst the goaltending circuit regarding the new rules/regulations that are coming out of the league's commission this summer.  I’ll post the memo's content and then my observations.

General Guiding Principle
Goalies must be adequately protected by their equipment, but this equipment should not be any bigger than it needs to be to for protection. Equipment should be proportional to the size of the goalie. Equipment is there to protect, not make saves.

We will work aggressively with the goaltenders and manufacturers towards developing a system for measuring goalies and setting a standard for the maximum size of equipment that each individual can wear. We must establish a fair and reasonable time line to research how best to implement this system and test the new equipment, on the understanding that we will be implementing size specific standards for goaltender equipment. Safety is paramount, but goalies will not be permitted to wear more than is required for protection.

Kinda like the rules on obstruction and holding, the above isn’t anything new, just the enforcement of it would be kind of new.

Goalie Pads - Long Term Changes (2009/2010)
Work with manufacturers to develop a reasonable and safe maximum pad height. The most important measurement will be from hip to knee. This will provide protection on a goalie-by-goalie basis based on his anatomical make up. Immediately begin the collection of size data for all goaltenders to help develop a "fair number" of inches above the knee as a maximum length for pad use.

This "number of inches above the knee" is referred to as the thighrise.  Almost all pads come with some length of pad that extends above the knee.  This protects the joint between the bottom of the pants and the top of the pad.  Butterfly goalies have also added inches over the years to help close the five hole and increase protection in the butterfly position.  As butterflies have gotten wider, the pad length has come along for the ride.  Currently there is no maximum length of thighrise, only maximum length of overall pad.

Goalie Pads - Immediate Changes
All pads must have a defined boot channel for the foot and channel inserts are forbidden. The channel must be big enough so that the skate slots into it and is not resting on the bottom of the pad.

See this definition for boot channel.  An over-stuffed or under-defined boot channel would cause the pads to sit up on the top of the skate and effectively add inches to the thighrise.

All Inner knee pads to be a maximum of 2.5 inches thick, this will include all inner knee padding on the pad and will be measured when non - compressed. Knee Strap Pads and build -ups must have a radius (rounded) on the top edge. Knee Straps must wrap around the knee build-ups and cannot come out behind or through knee build-ups.

The knee pads they are talking about are the landing pads for when a goalie drops into the butterfly position.  


This rule changes is to prevent the little "wings" that protrude from the inside of the leg pad in the immediate are of the knee when the pads are in a nominally vertical position when the goalie is standing or in his stance.  Some of you fellow nerds may remember that Marty Turco and Mike Smith pantomimed the large wings on Roberto Luongo's pads at one point last season and it cause a little hubbub around the league office.

Pads can only be 10.5 inches deep. The measurement will be taken from the front face of the pad to the last edge of the calf/inner knee protection.

I have no idea why they are nit-picking the depth of pads.

Calf wing protectors can no longer be attached to the 5-hole or 5-hole seam. Calf-wings must be inset a ½ inch from the inside 5-hole, creating a distinctive edge, and attached to the back cover. Calf-wing protectors must be 1 piece and not multiple layers and cannot include wedges (removable or non removable). Calf-wing protectors may be flat for 51/2 inches before contouring to the shape of the leg. Calf-wing protectors must contour and cannot be visible to the shooter when strapped to the goaltenders leg. Calf-wing protectors may not exceed 1 inch in thickness. The total length of the calf-wing protectors may not exceed 10.5 inches from the face (front) of the goal pad to the furthest point. Calf-wing protector straps must run through or wrap around so it follows the contour of the goaltender’s leg and in no way moves independently of the rest of the pad. No zippers or Velcro or Velcro attachments of any kind are allowed.

This is a modification to the location of the calf wrap. 


The rule change is intended to prevent a portion of the calf wrap from being the first part of the pad to hit the ice in the execution of a butterfly save.  It is also intended (I think) to keep the wrap from ballooning out from the sides of the pad when the goalie is in his stance and therefore taking away shooting area from the opposing would-be scorer.

Additional Knee Protection
Kay Whitmore (goaltending supervisor for the NHL) has the discretion to determine on a case by case basis what a reasonable amount of additional knee padding is, taking into account knee braces for instance, but generally knee padding must not exceed a contoured 10 inches, with no flat surfaces, and must not be "permanently" attached or fixed to the pants. 

This is intended to prevent supplementary knee protection (ie. knee pads) from replacing thighboards (already outlawed) and being used to clog up the five-hole area.  The "permanently" attached to the pants no-no is to keep the knee pad from functioning as a part of the pants and moving independent from the leg itself.

Pants - Long Term Changes
Need to work towards manufacturers having a uniform set of pant sizes. A large from one should be the same as a large from another. Need to work with manufacturers to make pants proportional to the player's size, without compromising player safety. Pants should be more tapered at the waist and a standard for hip measurements will be established.

This is just a common sense thing.  The tapering is an effort to help force the pants to conform to the goalie’s body and not hang off the side of his thighs by a few inches on each side.

Pants - Immediate Changes
Kay Whitmore, in conjunction with the NHLPA ,to have the discretion to determine what a reasonable pant size is for each goaltender and to determine if the goaltender is wearing the pants in an acceptable fashion. Goaltenders will not be allowed to wear large pants just to be bigger.
All inner belts will be removed.
Styrofoam hip blocks found in Velcro pockets may not exceed 0.5 inches.

Three things here: 1. Semi-custom pants for each goalie that correspond to that goalie’s size and they must be worn in a fashion that doesn’t shift around and provide blocking area instead of pure protection.  2. No inner belts that allow pants that are too large for the goalie to "float" out away from the body.  3. A limit on the thickness of padding that would wrap around the thigh area.  Again, an effort to eliminate blocking area.

Chest and Arm - Long Term Changes
Will work with manufacturers to determine size specific standards based on anatomic data collected from goalies. Need to work with manufacturers to establish more than the two measurements for chest and arms currently in use.

Another common sense approach, in my opinion.  Gives the goalie more options than "X-Large" and "Michelin Man" when it comes to the fit up of the C/A protectors.

Chest and Arm - Immediate Changes
Round off all straight edges. The clavicle protector/shoulder floater must have a flexible seam (sew lines) and follow the contour/slope without becoming a projection or extension beyond the normal shape of the shoulder and must be fastened down at the back by a fixed strap that cannot be adjusted. The clavicle protector/shoulder floater must be contoured to the shape of the torso and away from the armpit. Rib protection is allowed as long as it wraps the body and is not used to provide additional blocking area. The clavicle/shoulder floater must be fastened tight enough to not allow it to move freely.

This is an effort to eliminate/minimize the "football shoulder pad" look of some C/A units.  This should help conform the C/A unit closer to the goaltender's body.

The chest and arm pads should be flat in the front and should wrap around the shoulder tightly. All 7 inch elbow hinges will be fixed and rounded on the outsides where attached. Bicep floater edges should be skived to blend into the arm protection.

Hockey Operations along with the NHLPA has the discretion to determine what size arm and body is reasonable for each goaltender and if he is wearing it in a manner consistent with protection versus blocking area.

More shaving and tapering of the padding in the C/A unit to allow for protection, but not increase blocking area.  To be honest, some of these areas have gotten out of hand in recent years, so something along these lines was expected to come out of the commision.

Blocker - Immediate Changes
Kay Whitmore will work to ensure that the thumb protection follows the contour of the thumb. The blocker must not be more than 7 inches deep. The measurement will be taken from the face of the blocker to the end of the thumb protector.

This is an effort to eliminate what the league considers egregious blocking surface due to the sidewall (thumb protector) of a blocker.


Catching Glove - Long Term Changes
Hockey Operations will work with the manufacturers to reduce the overall size of the glove without compromising safety and protection. Reducing the "cheater" will be a focal point. The objective being to have it ready at the time of the height specific pads if it passes all safety criteria.

Trying to get back to a pure catcher with adequate protection and reduce the width of the wrist area and remove all "cheaters."


Helmets - Long Term
CSA working to establish goaltender helmet safety standards to ensure that goalies are using safe equipment.

I think this is kind of legal-ese for more testing and higher standards for face masks, including another look at cat-eye cages (stick blades CAN pass through the eye holes!) and concussion effects/prevention. 

Sticks - Long Term
Work towards standardizing paddle length standard with the IIHF.

Yay!  A 27" paddle from CCM is the same as a 27" from RBK is the same as a 27" from Sherwood, etc.  Makes the officials’ life easier, and should help all of us beer leaguers too!

General Note
Kay Whitmore will draft a set of guidelines to provide the NHLPA with respect to what he will allow in all areas where the standards are at his discretion. Any goalkeeper deemed to be outside the guidelines will be contacted along with his General Manager, Equipment Manager and a member of the NHLPA to take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. All previous punishments will apply if said goaltender does not comply.

Translation: Kay Whitmore will be busy.

In summary, there isn’t anything life-changing or likely to cause a 3 or 4 goals-a-game jump here.  With the above regulation changes, the league has basically gotten into the goaltending equipment fitting business.  Now, whenever a netminder makes it to the show, the first thing they'll look at is his gear before he ever gets to play a game.  They may be underestimating the logistics of such a move to a degree, and while there will be some growing pains, I don't see anything that will revolutionize the position or the equipment.

The fact remains that goaltending today is vastly different from where it was 20 years ago.  The training, the athleticism, the quality of the protection, etc. all have made goaltending safer and more integral to the success of each team.  No longer are the closet psychos with fair-to-middling skating ability (an old wives’ tale if there ever was one, but don’t get me started…) tossed in net and left to their own devices.  Nowadays, the position of last defense is highly specialized, highly skilled, and in the NHL, filled with highly talented athletes. Reducing the size of the depth of the pad or blocker, or shaving a little off the top of the shoulder pad won’t have a noticeable effect on goaltenders who make 90% of their saves with the center of their torso or snatch a high-wrist shot out of thin air with the catcher.  The good goalies will still be good, and the really good goalies will still be really good.


PS. I'd like to give a shout out to the guys and gals over at the GoalieBoard, whose excellent dictionary was used for some of the above pics.


It's not really part of the above discussion, but in case anybody was wondering, this isn't the first time the league has tweaked the goalie equipment recently.  They had a pretty huge change coming out of the lockout.  Pads were limited to 11" in width, the blocker was reduced/limited in area, the catcher was reduced/limited in circumference, jerseys were mandated to be tighter, shoulder floater were given specifications, and elbow floaters were given limits too.  Some of those changes were discussed here.