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NHL won't change restrictions on goalie pads

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-10-30 00:00:17

Despite a growing chorus of goaltenders who are displeased with the NHL's new restrictions on goalie pads, the league has no plans to make a change.

"Some of the concerns we're hearing now, they may grow in number, because you may hear somebody else do it, so you do it, too," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN. "But I don't think they'll ever reach the point where we'd ever consider making changes."

Daly added: "I like not to overreact to things. I don't think that some of the concerns we're hearing about currently are really reflective of a large majority of goaltenders."

In hopes to "eliminate equipment advantages" and increase scoring, the NHL and NHLPA agreed upon new mandates for goaltender's chest protectors this season. The new, more form-fitting silhouette features shoulder pads that were reduced by about an inch. In layman's terms, they look less boxy.

Several starting goaltenders have already voiced displeasure. "You honestly don't want to get hit in the arm. It leaves bruises," Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop told ESPN recently. "It's like wearing a shin guard on your arm, and the pucks are coming 100 mph. It hurts."

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby told The Washington Post: "Sooner or later, someone's going to get hurt pretty bad." Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was among the first goaltenders to speak out, telling The Columbus Dispatch: "I've never had the bruises on my arms [before], but now it feels like every other shot goes there. If it goes there, it's going to be sore. You start to be afraid of pucks, actually, especially in the practices. You get bruises in [the arms]. It's terrible."

In defending the new chest protectors, Daly said that it was "a multiyear process" before implementation that included "a lot of testing" as well as "a lot of input by a lot of different people that were going to be affected by it."

"Certainly, when we went about developing the new standards, we did it in conjunction not only with the players' association but with goalies, generally," Daly said. "We worked through that process. Having said that, certainly it's incumbent on us to see if it really is a safety concern. And if it is, and there's evidence that would suggest that it is, obviously we'd make changes."

There have been some rumblings about whether goaltenders received their equipment in time to practice and get used to the adjustments before the season.

Each team is responsible for working directly with the manufacturer to obtain equipment. Daly said manufacturers were supposed to have the equipment ready so that goaltenders could receive the new pads in early summer.

"Whether it happened in all instances, I'm sure it didn't," Daly said. "Our process was designed so that that could happen and should happen." Bishop, for example, said he didn't get his new chest protector until September. "The manufacturers didn't get us the new equipment until about a month before the season. So you don't even get time to adjust," Bishop said.

Other goalies -- including Florida's James Reimer, in an interview with The Associated Press -- have mentioned that manufacturers are backed up with orders.

Through Sunday night, games have been averaging 6.18 goals per game. The 2017-18 average was 5.94. The slight uptick could be in part to the new equipment guidelines, but it's too early to be conclusive.

The NHL and NHLPA have been working on altering goaltender's equipment for the past few years. Pant size was also recently reduced.

The league's skaters have been irked by the size of goaltenders' equipment, claiming it's an unfair advantage

Prior to this season, ESPN asked Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid to suggest one rule change to make the NHL better. "I'd make goalie equipment smaller," McDavid said. "As long as they're protected, that's the main thing, because guys shoot the puck so hard now. But it doesn't make sense for a goalie to be 160 pounds and when he gets out there, he looks like he's 250. A skating player can't fake how big he is."

When asked the same question, Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie had a similar response. " [Teammate Braden Holtby] is going to hate me for this, but I think the chest protectors, if there's a way to get those a little bit smaller," Oshie said. "I think the pads are small enough. Typically, it's the chest protectors that are saving so much. When you go to shoot, and there's just this huge chest in front of you, you can't get around. The goalies are so good these days, and they're so fast with their reflexes, that I think just slimming down the chest protectors a little bit would bring more goals in. Not more than you think, but the shots that are good shots will go in as opposed to a good shot not going in because a pad is too big."

In an interview on the ESPN on Ice podcast last week, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he hasn't heard complaints from either of the team's goaltenders about the new equipment yet. "[Devan] Dubnyk has been absolutely fantastic, so whatever he's wearing, I don't want him to take it off," Boudreau said. "I think sometimes, they might be getting a little bit more hurt, but I don't think the league would put them into something that would potentially hurt them."

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski contributed reporting to this report.

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