NHL Looks at Goalie Equipment and Blocked Shots

USATSI_8599942_154158418_lowresThe joint NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee is setting its sights on goaltender equipment again. A year after decreasing the size of goalie pads, they’re taking another look at equipment because the average save percentage is too high and that will never do.

In fact, the average save percentage is .915 – the highest it’s been since the statistic was tracked in 1983-1984. The mean goals against average is 2.52, the third lowest in 59 years.

And rather than celebrating the quality of modern NHL goalies, the issue comes down to diminishing the size of equipment to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Any proposed changes won’t impact the upcoming 2015-2016 season, but the goal is to make sure something can be in place for the following season.

The focus is to prevent goalie gear that is more about blocking than protection. This could see the implementation of tapered jerseys, which would effectively make it harder to conceal big equipment. If the jersey is on the tighter side, it will be easier to tell that the goalie is wearing a larger chest protector and subsequently easier to say that he shouldn’t be wearing a larger chest protector.

Before the last season, the Competition Committee took down the height of pads from 55 percent to 45 percent above the distance between the centre of the knee and the pelvis. Obviously, that wasn’t enough.

Reductions to hockey pants could also be in order, so keep an eye out for any changes associated with that.

It should also be noted, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, that the Competition Committee is also taking a look at shot-blocking techniques. Apparently NHLPA special commissioner Mathieu Schneider has been introducing ideas about disallowing certain techniques, but it’s hard to get a read on specifics at this point.

One inference has been that what Bob Gainey proposed in 2008 – the elimination of the “full body slide” in the defensive zone – could be up on the table again. Blocked shots have been the subject of some conversation for a while now, especially considering the risk it puts on players. But it’s also a big part of the game, so any rule against it will have to be a good one.


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