Big­ger nets would af­fect game’s in­tegrity

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/ pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­

There is plenty of dis­cus­sion th­ese days about how to best ad­dress the plum­met­ing scor­ing to­tals in the Na­tional Hockey League. Most who speak on the sub­ject can be cat­e­go­rized into a pair of main groups.

Peo­ple fall into ei­ther the ‘let’s change the size of the goalie gear’ group or the ‘let’s make the nets big­ger’ gang. Gen­er­ally, there isn’t a pun­dit or some­one with an opin­ion on the sub­ject that falls in the mid­dle of the two.

They’re ei­ther for one or the other. Very rarely do peo­ple bring up that hockey is played the same at ev­ery level, whether it’s mi­nor hockey or pro, and good coaches have fig­ured out how to off­set that of­fen­sive at­tack.

There is lit­tle cre­ativ­ity to hockey. Get the puck, dump puck and go get puck is pretty much the en­tirety of a lot of team’s of­fen­sive play­book. Teams will rinse and re­peat the above strat­egy ad nau­seum over the course of a sea­son.

In the 80s, goalies wore smaller gear and scor­ing to­tals sky­rock­eted.

But, that’s a col­umn for an­other time.

For now, we’ll stick to the goal­tenders and the larger-than-life su­per­hero cos­tumes they put on ev­ery time they jump be­tween the pipes. I guess it’s easy to tell what camp I fall into, hey?

Shrink­ing the goal­tend­ing equip­ment is the really the only way to go. You can’t ex­pect to al­ter the size of the nets.

They’ve been the size they’re at since the games’ beginnings. To put it sim­ply, chang­ing the size of the goal would al­ter the in­tegrity of the game. It would change how the game is played and force it into un­known ter­ri­tory. Would there be more scor­ing?

Truth­fully, that would re­main to be seen. A small curve in the mid­dle of the cross­bar or at the side posts may pro­vide a small bump in scor­ing to­tals, but noth­ing that would make any sort of sig­nif­i­cant splash. Be­sides, it would look weird. Goalie equip­ment is what needs to change. In the 80s, goalies wore smaller gear and scor­ing to­tals sky­rock­eted. The game was never more pop­u­lar as a re­sult. Well, that and teams em­ployed two or three en­forcers on their ros­ters.

Those days are gone. The game is too fast to have con­crete­footed lum­ber­ers go­ing up and down the ice.

Nope, re­duc­ing the size of the goal­tender’s equip­ment is what needs to hap­pen. I’m con­vinced of it.

Never be­fore in the history of hockey have there been ath­letes like the ones we have to­day play­ing goal. They are gar­gan­tuan in com­par­i­son to their coun­ter­parts. At least three keep­ers in to­day’s game stand at six-feet-six­inches tall. An­other three are sixfeet-five inches, while sev­eral other stand at six-foot-four­inches tall.

With the large chest pro­tec­tors, leg pads and gloves, goal­tenders that size must seem like be­he­moths be­tween the pipes.

Size is only a part of it. We have great ath­letes play­ing the po­si­tion to­day. We know more about the po­si­tion than ever be­fore and it shows. Tech­ni­cally, goal­tenders are the best they’ve ever been.

Some­thing’s got to give.

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