SUN Hockey Pool

NHL makes it official

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association have the first tangible proof of renewed co-operation -- an official deal on reduced goaltending equipment.

The truce is not part of a new collective bargaining agreement, but because it was jointly agreed upon and time is of the essence for manufacturers, those companies were yesterday informed by fax to proceed with the changes.

Pads will be reduced to 11 inches in width from 12 and blockers will be cut in height to 15 inches from 16. The width of blockers will remain eight inches. Three inches will come off of the circumference of catching gloves.

Pants will be reduced to 10 inches from 11 at the front and a goalie with a 34-inch waist will not be allowed to climb into a pair of triple XLs.

It already was decided to go with tighter fitting sweaters. The league will doggedly be looking for cheaters.

"We've used one of our goalies, Dwayne Roloson (of the Minnesota Wild), as part of the NHL-NHLPA testing (earlier this spring)," said Brad Janson, sales manager for TPS Hockey. "We already have his specifications for the new stuff. There's no way we could break it in if they didn't okay it until September.

"My only problem is that while (NHL hockey operations executives) Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy are behind this and so is (PA associate counsel) Ian Pulver, the general managers haven't been heard from. I've been down this road before where it looked like reduced pads were coming and they were squashed (a casualty of pre-lockout league-player grievances)."

But it is believed the GMs gave hockey operations a green light to reduce gear without it coming to a vote.

Maple Leafs goaltending coach Steve McKichan has been anticipating the change in equipment and said it will lead to some style adjustments.

"Goalies are either blockers or reactors and most of our Leafs are reactors," McKichan said. "That means they're less impeded by equipment and should only need to make position their priority.

"Butterfly goalies will see a difference with less ability to stack their arms."

McKichan has faith that technological advances in equipment will mean smaller gear will be just as safe, a real fear of goalies who know the potential puck velocity from a one-piece stick.

"It's not as dangerous as when Gump Worsley played (without a mask)," McKichan said.

"The gear is better and as long as the new equipment will be the same for everyone, it shouldn't be a problem."

Roloson hopes the changes in equipment don't extend to adoption of wider nets.

"That's what has me worried," Roloson said. "I'm a traditionalist. If they think that's the way to open up scoring, then they're barking up the wrong tree."


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