Yesterday's NHL goalie has no pity for today's

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Gerry Desjardins and his NHL contemporaries are shedding no tears over the new deflated goalie mode.

Nope, the guys who performed with 10-inch pads, baseball gloves for catchers and steno books for blockers aren't troubled to see current goalies getting a slim-down order.

"Everything got so big, the jersey, the pants, the glove," the 10-year NHL veteran said. "Heck, with that basket on your hand, you don't have to catch a puck any more."

It's only a rumour that goalie gloves are used to collect peaches once they wear out and that sweaters can, in a pinch, be employed as sails for small water craft.

Desjardins is a former London National who went on to play for Los Angeles, Chicago, New York Islanders and Buffalo from 1968 through 1978. He's an executive and part-owner of Canada Steel Service Centre Inc., which will present a cheque for $22,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at its fundraising golf tournament today at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club.

While netminders of the past looked as though they'd been on starvation diets compared to the well-upholstered 'keepers now, it should be pointed out present-day teams all have a wider array of larger guys armed with superior sticks for more shooting velocity.

Once the league starts up again after a locked-out year, the modern goalies will be facing pressures beyond seeing their leg pads reduced to 11 inches each from 12 inches and the rest of their padding knocked down an overall 11 per cent.

Suddenly, a tape measure joins the whistle as part of a ref's equipment. Goalies caught with oversized equipment will be suspended two games, their team fined $25,000 and the trainer $1,000.

Presumably, with a two-line pass now in the game, goalies will see more breakaways. And if a five-minute overtime doesn't produce a winner, they'll definitely be front and centre for the new shootout format.

"Sudden-death overtime creates a certain amount of pressure, but the focus will be greater on the goaltenders in a shootout," Desjardins conceded. "The goalie can be a hero or a bum."

Desjardins faced only one penalty shot during his career. He was with the Islanders in a game against Chicago, his former team, and feels he had a edge.

"Pit Martin took it and he missed the top corner. I gave him the whole half of the net. I was noted to have a pretty fast glove. He went for it and shot over the net. I had an idea where Pit was going to shoot."

Desjardins feels the vast change in goaltender equipment has been unfair to goalies of the past and that it was time to bring the netminder haberdashery back to reasonable proportions.

"It's unfair to compare today's goalies to Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden and Bernie Parent or Tony Esposito. I'm anxious to see how they do. I have a feeling they're gonna feel naked out there."

And a bit out of it. They'll now be able to play the puck only in an area six feet from either goalpost, extending diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the end boards.

Desjardins played until three years ago, an alumni game between Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers in a replay of their 1975 Stanley Cup final. Injuries caught up to him.

"I was getting hurt and suffer from some of those injuries today," he said. "I was playing with the NHL All-Stars in Sarnia and I tore a hamstring in the second period. I was going to play eight games in Southwestern Ontario and that was the first game. I also screwed up my shoulder just making a simple poke check, of all things."

The poke check has been replaced by the equipment check now.


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