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Size of goalie pads scrutinized at GM meetings

by Shawn P. Roarke

TORONTO -- The size of goaltending equipment again was on the docket of the NHL's spring General Managers meeting.

Specifically, the GMs would like to see the size of leg pads used by goalies further regulated.

"It's a project for a goalie to get bigger and try to displace more room in the net," NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said. "You talk to a goalie, they are working on it all the time. Goaltender coaches attack it. We have to make sure we don't expose goalies to injury in how their equipment is fitted. As you can tell, it's a frustrating project, but it is something that has affected the game in the past 10 years.

"[It] is the height of a pad and how it fits a goalie's leg. It's not a simple fix."

Specifically, the managers would like to see a reduction in the height of the goalie pad above the knee, as well as making knee pads more conforming and less bulky. There is a belief that these changes will open room between the legs and result in more opportunities for offense.

"We have two measurements on file for all NHL goalies -- from the floor to the center of your knee and from the knee to your hip," Kay Whitmore, the League's senior manager of hockey operations and goaltending equipment, said. "Right now, your pad is allowed to go 55 percent of the way between your knee and your pelvis, and that is where we are now. The feeling of the managers today was that was a little bit too generous. If we can find a number that is a little bit lower that provides adequate protection, we are willing to take a look at that."

Any changes to goalie equipment would have to be OK'd by the Competition Committee before it goes to the Board of Governors. It is expected that the League's recommendations -- formulated by Whitmore -- would be presented to the 10-member Competition Committee in June.

The League and the Players' Association each have five votes on the Competition Committee.

Mathieu Schneider, the special assistant to the executive director for the NHLPA, said the PA would give the issue serious consideration.

"There will be a lot more debate before anything is done," Schneider said Wednesday. "First thing is, you want to make sure the goalies are safe. The second thing you want to look at is how does the goalie size change the way the game is played, and I think we had a lot of good debate on that.

"Something that we talked about in the past is does the equipment make a player better. I think a player should have to rely on his own athletic ability. If the equipment is there and it makes them a better player -- gives them an advantage in competing, in a sense -- that's what we want to get rid of."

Determining those answers and developing a comprehensive proposal will fall to Whitmore, a former NHL goalie.

"I watch games every night, and you see goalies that are playing that are well under what they are allowed right now and they are playing well," Whitmore said. "Some of our best goalies are playing in that size equipment and they are playing safely. Until we can figure out exactly what the numbers are, that's what we will be trying to do in coming to the Competition Committee to present to them."

"We are all in this together and it is time to act that way to make the game the best we can and as safe as we can for the goalies," he added.

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