Report: Changes to goaltending equipment may not be ready for 2016-17 season

The NHL was set to introduce new, “streamlined” goaltending equipment for the 2016-17 season, but, according to a report, the process has been slowed down and netminders may not have the new gear by the time the season rolls around.

One of the biggest changes for the upcoming campaign was set to be the implementation of slimmer fitting, “streamlined” goaltending equipment. However, the new gear may not be ready in time for the upcoming season after all.

The equipment was originally slated to make its debut at the World Cup of Hockey, but at a press conference Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the equipment was “still a work in progress,” before adding that the hope was to at least have it in place for the regular season.

“I know our people in hockey operations are working very hard with the players’ association,” Bettman said, via Sportsnet. “I am hopeful that we can get it in place because I think it’s important.”

According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, though, getting the gear in place might not be a done deal. In fact, there’s a possibility the changes that were set to be in place for the upcoming campaign won’t actually take effect until 2017-18.

Spector reported that the process has been slowed down by a small group of netminders, and, to this point, no goaltenders have received their equipment for the upcoming season. That means not a single one has been given the time to fully adjust to what the new gear will feel like. That poses a problem, because, for obvious reasons, the goaltenders will want to work with the smaller equipment before using it in live action.

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The idea behind the changes was to make equipment more form fitting. When the first rumblings of the alterations to goaltending equipment came about during the early stages of the 2015-16 campaign, Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment, told THN that the idea was that the squared off equipment may be in need of an adjustment that sees the rounding of hard edges.

“Last time I checked, the human body is round,” Kay Whitmore told THN. “So a round arm should be protected by a round tube and vice versa. A thigh is round, a calf is round, but with the advent to companies going everything square, (it creates) better seals around the body, better seals along the ice, better performance. Those are the kind of things the competition committee would look at in the future.”

Whitmore said that first and foremost, though, was safety. And Spector reported that “some goalies are asking for comprehensive safety testing to take place before they are forced to use the gear.” That alone will slow down the process and could be what causes the new equipment to be delayed until there’s a full summer to test the gear.

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