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GM Meetings

GMs propose changes to goaltender equipment

Chest protectors, pants among targets to increase scoring

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Smaller, more uniform goaltending equipment is likely coming for the 2016-17 NHL season, a move general managers believe will even the playing field among goaltenders and, perhaps, provide the opportunity for more scoring. 

Senior director of hockey operations Kay Whitmore, who is in charge of goaltending-related issues for the NHL, said Tuesday at the second day of the general managers meetings that the League, in conjunction with the NHL Players' Association and several NHL goalies, have come up with prototypes for equipment he expects to be ready by June.

For the proposed changes to be implemented next season, approval from the competition committee and the Board of Governors is required. 

"I think the goalies themselves felt there should be a bigger gap between the greatest goalies in the League and the other guys, and if the gap is being closed by equipment, they don't like that," Whitmore said. 

The most telling changes in the pads will involve chest protectors and pants. Each piece of equipment will become more contoured, removing some of its blocking characteristics while maintaining the ability to keep a goaltender safe. 

"You are hearing from some of the best goalies in the game and they think this is what is right," Whitmore said. "They want a level playing field within their ranks. They want to look at the other end of the rink and feel that the guy down there looks appropriate for his size, so that if a guy is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, he should look that big, and if you are 6-1, 170, there should be a difference between those kind of guys. That's what we are going after." 

Video: GMs Talk About Changes Coming Between the Pipes

Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils, Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild and Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals are among the goalies leading the conversation on the players' side. 

Whitmore said the buy-in from the goaltenders and the NHLPA has provided an impetus to this reform, which stalled during past attempts. 

"I'm not going to lie, there was a lot of skepticism in the room by the [general] managers because it has been 'Groundhog Day' on this topic," Whitmore said. "The question was asked today, 'Well, what's different this time around?' Well, we are attacking it together." 

All parties said they believe the changes will benefit the game. 

"Ultimately, we have to acknowledge that the goaltending position, the athletes, the technique, has greatly improved in the last 20 years," Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "That's No. 1. These guys are big, fit, and the technical part of the position has greatly improved. But the goaltenders' equipment has grown incredibly, so the combination of better athletes, better technique and equipment makes it difficult. We don't want them to be less of an athlete and less technically good, but we have to get some control over this equipment." 

Colin Campbell, NHL senior vice president of hockey operations, said the rulebook already addresses goalies who deviate from the rules regarding pad size, and they will be used to enforce the new criteria. 

If a player is caught breaking the rules regarding equipment, he is subject to a two-game suspension and a $25,000 fine.

Video: Yzerman on the reduction of goaltending equipment

The general managers said Tuesday they are on board with the changes and the punishments that may be necessary to spur compliance across the board. 

There is also a belief that if the goalie-equipment reform is successful, it may address some of the concern about scoring that has crept into conversations about the health of the game. 

The general managers broke into small groups Tuesday to discuss various topics, and one of the areas examined was ways to introduce more scoring into the game. Forcing a team to serve the full two minutes of each minor penalty and removing the ability of the shorthanded team to legally ice the puck were two of the major proposals to come out of that group. 

The general managers want to see how the change in goaltending equipment will affect scoring before entertaining other ideas. 

"Before we have to talk about getting radical in anything else, if we can shore that position up, I think that will give us some clarity on some other things," St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "I'm really excited for what Kay has got going and [where] it goes moving forward.'' 

Another group discussed the status of Rule 48, which governs contact to the head of another player. 

"The consensus for our group was, we're comfortable with the way the rule is and [are] not looking to make any changes," Yzerman said.

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