Goalie sticks it to rule

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

Martin Brodeur finds it "ridiculous."

The National Hockey League's best stick-handling goaltender said yesterday he cannot understand why the league's powers-that-be would strip him of that skill by limiting the areas in which he can play the puck.

"I don't want to complain but I really don't understand the logic of taking away a talent that only a handful of goalies around the league really have," Brodeur said during a phone interview yesterday. "All the general managers who didn't have good puck-handling goalies voted this rule in, I'm sure.

"I think it's ridiculous. It takes away from the few goalies who do it."

Under terms of the rules ratified by the league's board of governors on Friday, goaltenders may play the puck behind the goal line only in a trapezoid-shaped area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the end boards.

The format was used in the American Hockey League this past season.

"Listen, Jacques Plante used to wander out of his net and play the puck back 40 or 50 years ago and now it's not okay? It's like they want goalies to go back to being robots," he said.

No matter. Brodeur already has come up with ways to take advantage of the new rules.

"With no (centre ice) red line, I can pass the puck all the way up to the other team's blue line," he said. "(Opposing teams) won't always be prepared for that."

Brodeur attempted that manoeuvre a number of times during the world hockey championship in Austria last spring, a tournament in which there was no centre ice red line.

The New Jersey Devils star also considers the league's decision to push the nets back two feet towards the boards to be a plus.

"I'm going to be quicker behind the net," he said. "There is two feet less to get the puck."

As for the smaller goalie equipment, Brodeur said few modifications were made on his pads and gloves. Unlike Anaheim's J.S. Giguere and the New York Islanders' Garth Snow, Brodeur has never used the type of ballooning equipment that makes a goaltender look like the Michelin Man between the pipes.

"I already have my new equipment," he said. "It'll be all ready to go by the time we have the Olympic training camp (for Team Canada) in B.C. next month."


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