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Dubnyk, Kuemper Adjusting to New Hockey Pants

All NHL goaltenders required to be in smaller pants by Feb. 4

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- The NHL issued a memo to all teams on Tuesday requiring that their goaltenders become compliant regarding new, smaller pants. In an effort to help boost scoring by making the size of goaltender's equipment smaller, all goaltenders will be required to make the switch no later than Feb. 4.

While some goalies around the League have already began using the new pants, others, like Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper, have only experimented in practice. 

While not all goaltender equipment is equal -- some around the League have gained a reputation for wearing bigger equipment than others -- Dubnyk is one that should have an easier time adjusting because he is known to wear reasonably sized pads.

The struggle for both him and Kuemper will come from making the adjustment mid-season, instead of having time during training camp and in the preseason to get used to the new pants and stretch them out a bit.

"It's just the principle of doing it midseason," Dubnyk said on Wednesday. "For myself personally, I'm not big on changing gear. I wear gear for a long time and I've never switched a pair of pants mid-year in my whole career. It's just frustrating to be forced to do it."

Dubnyk praised the work of Kay Whitmore, the man in charge with signing off on all equipment used by goaltenders League wide, on making sure goalies are wearing safe equipment. 

"It's not about the specs or anything like that," Dubnyk said. "Kay is doing a good job making sure the protection is there. It's just being forced to change equipment in the middle of the season when we're playing every other day."

Kuemper said he has worn the new pants for "eight to 10 practices" and may try them out in a game before the Feb. 4 deadline. 

While the pants fit differently along the hips -- Kuemper said he's noticed pucks are bouncing differently off the sides of the new pants -- the biggest difference is in the groin area.

The front of the pants are not expected to be provide any less protection, but Kuemper said he was clipped on the inside of his leg by a shot in practice Wednesday, an area that would have been padded before but no longer is.

With no padding there, it could increase the size of a goaltender's five hole, but could also post safety risks that the League will have to keep an eye on moving forward.

"Just the way certain pucks come in and hit you, there's not as much padding as there used to be," Kuemper said. "I think they're trying to figure out ways to make it better. Hopefully they'll come up with something soon."

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