Does Size Matter?

A hot topic around the NHL before and after the GM summit has been the size of goalies’ pads. I’m not sure why since we all know it’s not the size but the motion of the ocean, RIGHT! Right. right? With the playoffs in full swing this may not be the best time to post this but I do have some observations to make.I’m sure there are plenty of articles concerning the size of goalie pads but for this article I will not reference anything specific, but, rather use the most frequent observations along with my own.

The current rules state that a goalie’s leg pads cannot be over 13 inches wide. There are also dimensions for blockers and alike but the concern is specifically with the leg pads.

Some of us may remember the 80’s when the pads looked like toothpicks in comparison to todays pads. This has naturally led people to view the size of goalie pads as one reason for the high scoring in the 80’s and the low scoring today. But what I am more concerned about here is the goaltending style in general use then and today and its relation to the size of pads.

Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour jump out as innovators in the goaltending style predominant in the NHL today. Roy brought the butterfly style and Belfour brought the practice of laying the stick paddle flat on the ice when the puck is in close. Before this many goalies were taught to stand up as long as possible since going down usually led to exposing a large amount of the net. Today goalies are taught how to use the butterfly without getting out of position and how to move while in the butterfly. The leg save has become much more common (an aside: has anyone seen a great skate save lately?). Yet there was always a weakness in using the butterfly-even the with the best of goalies it naturally led to the opening oif the 5 hole. This leads me to my point that not only the width of the goalie pad should be debated but also the length of the pad.

If you look around the league most goaltender’s pads cover almost half of their thigh. Little Manny Legace’s pads look they come up to his ears and Loungo must use 46’s or something. These pads are kept secure around the knee but the extra up top is kept loose so that is keeps a straight form. In order to cover the 5 hole a butterfly goalie used to have to keep his legs pretty tight together – today a goalie can keep his legs spread thus covering more net area while the extra on top closes the 5 hole for them.

I think that the long length of the pads has stopped as many shots as the increased width has. I’d like to hear what anyone else has to say about this subject.


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