NHL Goalie Equipment Shrinks
NHL goalies are going to have to keep their reflexes sharp or toughen up. Their equipment has become the most recent to change since the hockey league began streamlining players’ gear.
The thinking behind the shrinkage is to improve players’ chances of scoring goals, as well as to improve and reward athletic skills. The changes effectively get rid of puck-blocking padding that was designed with something of a one-size-fits-all approach. According to league vice-president Kay Whitmore, catering for different sizes was one of the biggest challenges of the push to decrease the size of equipment.
New Gear Form-Fitting
The biggest changes to NHL goalkeeper gear were made to the chest protectors and arm padding. The old, angular ones have been replaced by designs that fit players’ forms.
Whitmore said the most noticeable change to the chest protector was its 1-inch reduction. The size of arm pads was also reduced. As simple as it sounds, the process has been a long one.
The vice-president explained the equipment had to be 3D-scanned, undergo inspection, and then wait for approval. Only once new standards had been set, could the manufacturers begin production in earnest. That may have taken longer than anyone anticipated, but the former pro-player is happy with the results so far.
Equipment had to be 3D-scanned, undergo inspection, and then wait for approval
Another former player who supports the changes made to NHL goalkeeper equipment was Mathieu Schneider, now NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr’s special assistant. He said that the league had seen an improvement in players’ performances every time it had issued smaller equipment.
However, Schneider also acknowledged that the potential for enhanced abilities was not convincing enough for some whose old chest protectors had sentimental value.
Reaction to New Gear Mixed
The new equipment has been met with a mixed reaction by league goalies, many of whom have questioned the safety of the new issue while expressing support for the changes.
Toronto’s Garret Sparks said it was a challenge he was willing to face as long as there was no risk of injury to any players. He added that it might even help him improve his skills. Another player to express support was Frederick Andersen. The Leafs goalkeeper said the missing inch should not be an issue for players at their best.
The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, however, disagrees. His approach, especially after stopping a puck close to his collarbone is that, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. He said the changes appeared to be born from a desire to see worse performances from players; something he was not happy about. Still, Whitmore is not too worried about the naysayers. He said players simply needed to adapt, and that he was confident the benefits would follow.