The National Hockey League may cut the size of goaltender equipment again after it shortens leg pads by about two inches this season to try to increase scoring, Commissioner Gary Bettman said today.
The league and its players’ union agreed this offseason to reduce the maximum length of goalie pads, according to NHL.com, after scoring dropped for the fourth consecutive season. Bettman said the league is exploring additional changes.
“We’re looking at other things that we can do to reduce the size of the equipment and open up more space to shoot at,” Bettman said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link in New York. “But we have to be careful because, again, goalies are important, valuable, and we don’t want them needlessly hurt.”
The league’s previous rules, instituted prior to the 2010-11 season, said that a goalie’s leg pads could extend no higher than 55 percent of the distance between his knee and pelvis, according to the NHL’s website. That number will be reduced to 45 percent, which would shorten the average goalie’s pads by two inches.
“I’m sure there will be a bit of an adjustment period, but it’s something I’ve gone through and the other goalies have gone through before,” Corey Crawford of the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks was quoted by NHL.com as saying last month. “I just hope it’s not something that leads to injuries.”
NHL teams combined to average 5.44 goals per game last year, according to hockey-reference.com. That marked the fourth consecutive season of decreased scoring, from 5.83 goals per game in 2008-09.
“Goaltenders want to be competitive with each other and if somebody is wearing something big, somebody else says, ‘Well, I need to be as big,’” Bettman said. “We want them to be safe, we want them to be protected, but part of goalie equipment isn’t intended to protect the net against the puck.”
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