The new, tighter-fitting, rounder goalie pants are mandatory as of Saturday, despite having initially been in the works for the debut of the 2016-2017 season. The equipment is said to be more proportional to body size and should help boost scoring, a goal the league has had for a while now.
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been among the goalies in on the conversation. He was involved in discussions about streamlining equipment and was apparently unhappy about them at first, but he took some tests and determined that there “wasn’t much difference” after all.
The primary concern was that the new pants would limit flexibility and hamper coverage when he tried to play against the post.
“If there is too tight equipment it doesn’t allow you to bend the whole way so it leaves a hole,” Holtby said. “But we looked at it through video, slowed everything down and there were no holes, so it’s fine. I didn’t find much of a difference at all.”
San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones has actually been working with the new pants for a few weeks now and also claims that there is minimal difference.
Other netminders have been wearing them in game situations, with Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Peter Budag among their number.
According to the NHL’s senior director of hockey operations Kay Whitmore, the new pants will have a defined thigh guard reduced in width from the current level of 10 inches to a new level of nine inches. The new leg will have a constant curve that wraps around the leg and will not flare out, as past goalie pants have.
More sizes are available to create a more fitted goalie pant, too.
The league originally wanted to implement the new pants at the beginning of the season, but there were safety concerns that caused a delay in manufacturing. As it is now, more than a quarter of the league’s goalies are wearing the new pants ahead of Saturday’s mandatory introduction.
“We addressed the safety concerns and felt it was the right decision to implement as soon as possible, regardless of the fact that it was midway through the year,” Whitmore said.