Say No to Bigger Nets…

Yahoo has a story today that the NHL is very seriously considering bringing bigger nets to the NHL and the process of doing so is further along that most people think. This scares me in a big way because it would once again prove to me that the NHL is clueless. Only simple minded people would think that bringing in bigger nets would solve all of the NHL’s woes. If just scoring a bunch of goals is what people really wanted no one would watch soccer and yet it is the biggest sport everywhere else in the world. If just scoring a bunch of goals is what people really wanted, people would love the NHL All-star game, but people don’t. I have said this a million times. What people want is intensity, passion and fierce competition. People want fancy plays and even great saves, not easy goals. The proper way to have more goals scored is to allow more battles in front of the net. Make the goal crease a little smaller so it make it more difficult for the goalie to come out and cut down all the angles. And most of all, reduce the goalie equipment size even more. I realize the NHL has reduced the size of goalie equipment some but why can’t it be reduced more? Take a look at Billy Smith back in the early 1980’s with the Islanders and Martin Gerber this season with teh Senators.



I chose Martin Gerber (6’0″, 185lbs) because he is one of the smaller goalies in the NHL today and fairly close to the size that Billy Smith (5’10”, 185lbs) was. Gerber’s goalie pads are an inch or two wider and go all the way up to his waste and aren’t tightly tied to his legs so he can better cover the ice when he drops to his knees. Plus, Gerber’s shoulder pads probably rise 3″ above his actual shoulders. The NHL needs to implement a rule that goalie pads are primarily for safty and not for stopping pucks and that they should be no bigger than is absolutely necessary to protect the goalie from the puck and that the be securely tied to the legs. Let’s give that a try before messing with bigger nets, especially those ugly rounded nets.

The NHL has one of the richest histories of any sport. Lets not mess with it too much.

This article has 7 Comments

  1. Just a couple of points. The Yahoo article was actually originally posted in the San Francisco Chronicle… do you really trust a guy sharing his opinions on the NHL from San Fran? Secondly, the fact that the NHL tested new nets in the preseason rookie tournament between Toronto, Montreal, and Florida is OLD NEWS. They’ve been bantering about this crap for months. Everyone knows they’ve been talking about it, that doesn’t mean it’ll be reality. The fact that you’re discussing a decrease in pad size is also not new. The NHL has been pushing goalies to restrict pad sizes for years, but there’s a few problems with that. First, the NHL of the 1980’s didn’t have Composite Sticks that gave average NHL shooters 95 mph slap shots. It also had far fewer players that took HIGH slap shots, as fewer players played with such extreme curves to their sticks (as the main increase in stick blade curvature was noticed with the increase in European players, not that I’m being discriminatory, it’s just a fact that in Europe they don’t have rules about stick blade curves).

    Goalies are going to protect their jobs and their income, and while I concur that more scoring isn’t what “excites” fans, I’m pretty sure nobody can agree what DOES excite fans. Some think it’s scoring, others think it’s hitting, others think it’s fighting, and still others think it’s great goaltending. Personally I think hockey played at a high level of skill, at a high level of speed, with hitting, the occasional fight, and IMPORTANT goals, is important. One thing increased goal size will do is increase the number of LEAD changes, and frankly games that go back and forth DO excite fans. If the final score is 9-7 that might look bad on paper, but if one of those teams went from being down 7-2 and won the game 9-7 that’d be pretty damn exciting to watch.

    I’m pretty sure the size of goaltending equipment and the size of the nets isn’t the only relevant point, have you seen Lacrosse Goalies lately? they look HUGE and the nets are smaller than in hockey. I’m pretty sure if they just narrowed the leg pads by about an inch or two on either side goals would go up. Lets also not forget the Butterfly style revolutionized goaltending in the late 80’s. Most goalies before then were of the stand up style, and very few went down to close off the lower half of the net. Now 90% plus of the goalies shut down the lower half of the net and fewer shots go in. As the leg pads have become designed to block more of the lower half of the net the goals have dried up. Make it harder for goalies to go down by increasing the size of the upper half of the net and you solve part of your problem. I don’t think it’s such a BAD thing frankly. All the arguments for maintaining traditional rules in the game are idiotic since the NHL has changed rules NUMEROUS times in the past and it’s still one of the best sports on the planet.

  2. the big nets are dorky. I agree that this simplistic idea that goals are all we want is silly. The level of goals is not too bad right now, with games having anywhere from 0-7 or 8 goals per team on any given night. Iron out the refereeing, reduce pad size, allow some fights, and all will be well.

  3. Steve said:

    “First, the NHL of the 1980’s didn’t have Composite Sticks that gave average NHL shooters 95 mph slap shots.”

    1) I don’t believe new composites give players a harder slap shot. Wrist shots, maybe, but not slap shots. Al MacInnis was still winning hardest shot competitions with wood.
    2) Bobby Hull had a 100+ mph shot in the 60s. Goalies survived just fine with crappy leather equipment.
    3) If you’re still not convinced, then ban composite sticks.

    “It also had far fewer players that took HIGH slap shots…”

    Which has nothing to do with the size of goalie pads.

    If the RCMP can comfortably wear bulletproof vests without looking like the Michelin man, then I think we have the technology to produce form-fitting goalie pads. This isn’t about safety one bit, despite what the goalie and goaltending equipment lobby say.

    Changing the nets is not an option. If the NHL does that, it will trickle down so that every little backwater rink in the country will be forced to do the same thing.

  4. “Changing the nets is not an option. If the NHL does that, it will trickle down so that every little backwater rink in the country will be forced to do the same thing.”

    The one thing I could accept is increasing the height of the nets by 6″ or so. You can make an argument that goalies are now much taller and that tallet nets would be appropriate. Right now goalies can drop to their knees and still cover most of the top of the net. If there were an extra 6″ in height players will have the high shot more available. That may also lead to goalies not droping to the ice as often or as quickly which could also lead to more goals in the bottom of the nets. This is also acceptable because arena’s won’t have to be retrofitted and/or the NHL won’t have to deal with goofy looking rounded nets which would not helps the NHLs credibility or image at all.

    Another big advantage that NHL goalies now have over the goalies of the 1980’s and earlier is their equipment is now light weight. Pads in the 1980’s were made of leather and by the end of the game when they got wet they weighted a ton. Goalies don’t need to deal with that now and can focus more on agility and flexibility than strength and endurance to deal with the weight of their pads.

  5. I think there’s a big difference between the rare player who fires the puck 100 mph with a wooden stick (which frankly IS rare… believe it or not), and every player being able to fire as shot in the mid 90’s because of the whippiness of the composite sticks. I also disagree on the point that higher shots don’t relate to goaltending pad on the upper body. If you think stopping a frozen rubber puck (a blunt object) requires the same technology as stopping a bullet (which even in it’s compressed form won’t spread to a diameter of more than an inch or two) you’re pretty sorely mistaken. It’s like the difference between stopping a knife and stopping a sledge hammer. If you hit someone with a knife you’re worried about stopping PENETRATION (as you are in bullet proof vests cops wear). If you hit someone with a sledge hammer you aren’t trying to penetrate what they’re wearing so much as apply enough force to shatter what’s underneath. A puck can break bones, as is made obvious by the number of broken foot, hand, and facial bones from shots taken by blockers. Plus if you think cop’s bullet proof vests are designed to be pounded repeatedly by bullets and “last” you’re not thinking straight. Also I’d point out that Cops don’t exactly feel so great after getting shot in the chest, even if they’re wearing a vest. Usually they get knocked to the ground and have severe bruising and welts underneath. Goalies probably don’t want to be covered in welts and bruises after playing every game.

    I’ve taken pucks off a normal chest protector before (for skaters not goalies), and while that isn’t that uncomfortable, it’s not something I’d want to repeat with regularity.

    “If the RCMP can comfortably wear Bullet Proof vests without looking like the Michelin Man, then I think we have the technology to produce form-fitting goalie pads.”

    You should make note of the fact that Bullet Proof vests typically don’t provide any shoulder, or arm protection. They protect Vital Organs only. Toss on the shoulder and arm pads and there’s your reason for the extra bulk in goaltending upper body protection. If you want to look yourself check the link:

    Most chest/arm protection for Pro-Goalies these days include mid-arm floating pads to block the net more, as well as extra wide and longer shoulder floaters. THOSE could be removed. But generally speaking the pads aren’t going to get THAT much smaller.

  6. Oh, and why the “goofiness” of nets is any more worrisome than changing things like the size of the rim in basketball, or the flight patterns of the ball in soccer, is beyond me. The sport can make whatever changes the powers that be think are necessary. Arguing that it isn’t “fair” is sort of absurd since everyone would be playing with the same new rules.

    I completely agree that increasing the net size and adding more goals won’t make the sport more interesting in the slightest and that the whole exercise is misguided. What I don’t see is why people are so concerned that it’ll make the sport a “joke” or are worried about it’s “image”. Personally I think the fact that they’re trying to change everything to impress people is the REAL problem with the league’s image. If the sport sold itself all this other crap wouldn’t matter. But nobody seems all that interested in marketing it appropriately. Perhaps they should stop trying to compete with sports like Bowling, Poker, and Nascar and instead realize that they are what they are, and freaking out about TV numbers in the states is completely pointless.

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