Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Protection of Goaltenders

The big debate around the league right now is the "Protection of Goaltenders". This all started earlier this week when Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins barrelled in on Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. In case you missed it, here is the video.

Now, Lucic managed to get himself a 2 minute penalty out of this ordeal, but it also spurred a meeting with the one and only Brendan Shanahan. Lucic managed to get off relatively scotch free, avoiding any suspension while using the "incidental contact" argument to his advantage.

Want to know my opinion? Shove it up your ass, Lucic. You could have avoided contact, and if you had to bump into Miller, which I fully believe you didn't, you could have done so without extending your arms through the "Incidental Contact". Because who does that?

I'm seeing these experts calling for goaltenders to be fair game. Seriously?

Now I understand there is a level of risk involved with coming out and playing the puck. That risk shouldn't be, by any stretch of the imagination, bracing yourself for a big hit. This risk should be mis-playing the puck or getting pressured into a bad decision by a forechecker. Possibly slipping because what you are wearing on your legs aren't some form fitting shin pads, they are gigantic cushions.

Let's break this down, from an equipment perspective:

Goalie Skates - Goalie skates have extremely long blades, the longer the blade, the tougher it is to make sharp turns like you would wearing a nice pair of player skates. They are also covered with a big chunk of plastic for protection. Not ideal for quickly avoiding "Incidental Contact".

Goalie Pads - I'm not sure I really need to go over the obvious, but if you think these will help a goalie maneuver through traffic while avoiding getting leveled... well you might want to stop reading now as this is a waste of your time. The are also much heavier than you may think.

Gloves - A goalie doesn't have the ability to fully grab his stick while making a play. This makes playing the puck risky, as accidents will, and do, happen. They also make bracing your body for impact tough as you don't have your fingers free to grab and hold.

Stick - It's fat, clunky, and made to help stop the puck, not a 220 pound power-forward.

Helmet - The helmet is by far my biggest issue with the equipment side of things. Goalie helmets aren't strapped in like a player helmet is. You don't click the chinstrap into place, making it hard to pop off when you're hit. I've had it happen to me several times, and it happens in the NHL without goalies being fair game already, but goalie helmets do pop off. They aren't secured like a player helmet is. If a goalie were to be fair game, anytime they would get hit, the chance of there helmet popping off is at least 50%. And if it was me, I would help my helmet come off because the play has to be blown dead when a goalies helmet is not resting on there head.

Equipment aside, do you really want to see goalies getting injured when there is only maybe 20-25 legitimate starters in the league as is?

I'm really frustrated with the amount of people that truly believe a goalie should be fair game. Goalies aren't built or trained to brace for hits. The job is already punishing enough with 100mph slapshots flying there way, and players cutting through the crease making life difficult. Players stopping, spraying snow in there face, and the numerous minor hacks and slashes they get while covering the puck. Bodies flying on top of them during scrums.

The people that do want to see goalies become fair game are just frustrated when a goalie makes a play preventing there team of an offensive chance. Is it really worth upping the risk for maybe 10-15 more goals, league-wide, on the season? Because let me tell you, the amount of injuries, even if it's just one elite netminder, will out weigh the goals for.

End the debate. Goalies should be protected by the league.

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