Despite reports that the changes to goaltending equipment could be delayed, it appears at least one key piece of equipment will be smaller when NHL netminders take the crease to start the 2016-17 season.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had previously said the league was attempting to implement the change in pants size by “early in the season, as early as opening night,” and it appears the league is on track to do just that.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the league is going ahead with its plan to introduce they form-fitting, so-called streamlined pants for the start of the new campaign. The pants are one of the major pieces of gear the league wanted to target, especially when it comes to goaltenders wearing oversized equipment in order to take up additional space in the net. The belief is that shaving a few inches off of the growing waistlines of goaltenders may create more goals, and the same goes for shrinking down the rest of the equipment netminders wear.
Earlier this year, Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment, told THN earlier this year that the reason the league was looking at pant sizes as a way to reduce the bulkiness of netminders was because it didn’t make sense that the taller, thinner netminders were wearing the same pant size as their shorter, wider counterparts.
“Does it make much sense that you can fit a whole league of all these goalies into a couple pant sizes, a large and an extra large, when you go around every dressing room in the NHL and you find smaller players in a small pant and big players in an extra large?” Whitmore said. “There’s disparity among the players, but why isn’t there among goalies?”
There could be one major hiccup, though, especially for goaltenders rocking equipment from one, unnamed manufacturer. According to NHL.com and InGoal Magazine’s Kevin Woodley, one of the major equipment companies has yet to produce a single pair of the new, streamlined pants. That means goaltenders using that brand have yet to fiddle with or get used to playing in the new equipment. Those goaltenders will be under the gun to get used to the equipment before the season starts.
However, just because changes are coming to the pants doesn’t mean the league will be pulling off its full change, which was set to include smaller pads and chest protectors this season. But the league hasn’t given up hope they can shrink the size of the chest protectors this coming season, but there’s no current timeline on when — or if — those changes will take place during the campaign, McKenzie reported. Woodley added the league could simply round the arms and trim down other areas of the chest protector in-season rather than shrink the gear altogether. More sweeping changes could then wait until the off-season.
Even if the league doesn’t get around to that, though, get ready for goaltenders to look slightly slimmer in the lower body come puck drop in October.
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