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The ‘Big’ Goaltender Issue

From the Fantasy Files

The 'Goalie Equipment Working Group', consisting of GMs Doug Risebrough, Brett Hull, Jim Rutherford and Garth Snow along with murderer Dany Heatley, forward Mike Cammalleri, and keepers Martin Brodeur, Rick DiPietro, and Ryan Miller has been assembled to attempt to address the 'issue' of the increase in the size of goaltending equipment since the mid-90's.

It's hardly a secret that goaltending styles have changed dramatically in the past few decades from something that looked like this:

Do you have anything in a medium? This is making my nipples chafe.

and moved like this:

Actual photo of Blues alumni Jeff Sergeant.

To something that looks more like this:

The Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man. It just popped in there.

and moves like this:

He did 3 tours in 'Nam...... I was in Corpus Christi on business a month ago. I had this eight foot tall Asian waiter, which made me curious. I asked him his name. Sure enough it's Ho Tran Bishop!

From 'stand-up' to 'toes-up' to the modern 'butterfly' and 'hybrid' styles of goaltending, the position's play and equipment has been at the forefront of innovation in the game, right along with stick technology. If the changes that have been made to goaltender's equipment in order to accomodate the butterfly and hybrid styles of play have done anything to reduce scoring, then the advances made in forward's gloves, and stick material, flex, and design have done everything to maintian the standing of scorers in the arms race.

Now is a good time to ask the question: is scoring really down? If so, by how much? Can we look at scoring over different timeframes to find out why? By decade, this is how scoring has fared - listed as total goals per regular season game:

  • Aughts - 5.55

  • 1990's - 6.18

  • 1980's - 7.67 Two words: Edmonton Oilers.

  • 1970's - 6.62

  • 1970's - 5.87

We're obviously sitting on the back end of a scoring spike from the glory days of the 1980's, but what can Buttman do to make that happen all over again? How about finally eliminating the clutching and grabbing? Maybe regulate the officiating to something that resembles a semblance of something that might be standard and professional? Oh, no - let's talk about increasing the size of the net and/or reducing the size of the goaltender's equiment.

It looks as though the 2008-09 season will be the first to suffer the proposed regulations that were offered by the committee, which will immediately cut down on a great deal of the padding in leg pads that isn't explicitly present for protection, as well as the 'excess' padding that has found its way onto chest armor over the years. Padding also faces size limitation according to the size of the goaltender that is wearing it: no longer will Manny Legace (5'9")and Ryan Miller (6'7") be able to wear the same 38" leg pads.

Another question that this brings to mind: how would a change like this impact the way in which teams value the height of a goaltending prospect? For more answers, I turned to Game Time's very own prospect department.

Regarding the change's impact on the current Blues stock of keepers, the GTPD says "All of the Blues' current goaltending prospects are six foot or better (Schwarz, at 6', is the smallest), so this shouldn't impact them too awfully much. I think your premise, however, is correct, and that teams will start to place a premium on height/body scale when looking at goaltending prospects. In the never-ending quest for a competitive advantage, if the rules favor a taller goalie, then taller goalies will become the norm. Indeed, they already are, for the most part.

He then commented on this year's draft pool, "In the current rankings, nine of the top ten domestic goaltenders are at least 6-01 (only ninth-ranked Dustin Tokarski, the Memorial Cup-winning goalie, is smaller at 5-11), including the tenth-ranked kid, Chris Carozzi of Missisauga St. Michael's at 6-02.75, 185 pounds. Carozzi is a guy I've been wathing out of the corner of my eye for the Blues; he had four shutouts this year, a 2.75 GAA and .911 save percentage in 47 games played. The top six European goalies are all 6-01 or better, including the top-ranked Jacob Markstrom at 6-03 (a guy who has been linked to the Blues in a lot of rumors I've been hearing).

While I think that some of the non-protective rolls that you can clearly see on Garth Snow's chest armor in the above photo can certainly be trimmed down, I feel like the upgraded knee and calf cradles in the modern pad are essential to the current style of play, and do not create an unfair advantage. The reality here is that commisioner Bettman, in his infinite wisdom, is really just attempting to conjure an issue that he can solve in hopes that the real issue (deplorable officiating) remains at a comfortable arm's-distance length until the end of his tenure.