If pads get smaller, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford will adjust
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org March 22, 2013 9:42PM
Updated: April 24, 2013 6:18AM
Corey Crawford has seen the grainy footage of old hockey games from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. And when he sees the goaltenders out there, looking sort of like Gumby with their short, narrow pads and floppy leather mitts, he has only one thought.
“Practice must have been hell for them,” Crawford said. “Games, not so bad. But practice must have been just murder.”
If the NHL has its way, Crawford and his fellow goalies will look a little bit more like their predecessors in the near future. Among the possible rule changes discussed at Wednesday’s general managers meeting in Toronto was limiting the size of goalies’ leg pads. Pads can take up 55 percent of the space between a goalie’s knee and pelvis and can be 11 inches wide.
Also discussed were rules to mandate visors in the wake of a gruesome shot to the eye of Rangers forward Marc Staal and hybrid icing that would cut down on high-speed collisions on races to touch the puck.
Any such changes would have to be approved by the players association and the NHL Board of Governors.
The Hawks were skeptical.
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s really how many goals are scored that makes a game exciting,” Crawford said. “I think it’s the speed, the skill, the passing. As long as the game is fast, I think it’ll be exciting. Just because we get 10-8 hockey games doesn’t mean it’s going to be an exciting game.”
With players faster and stronger than ever, and composite sticks allowing them to whip the puck harder than ever, goalie safety is an obvious concern. Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer told the Hockey News he’d play “with shin pads if they go back to Titan wooden sticks.”
“Exactly,” Crawford said. “Shots keep getting harder, but for some reason, goalie equipment has to go down. Whatever. Whatever they do, just try to adjust to it.”
As for visors, all players in juniors and the American Hockey League have to wear them, but when they get to the NHL, it’s their choice. The league estimated that about 75 percent of NHL players wear them, but Hawks center Andrew Shaw isn’t one of them. He’s not a fan, and the two-inch scar below his right eye is a big reason why.
Shaw was wearing a visor while playing for Rockford last year when he was run into the boards head-first. His helmet hit the boards, the visor dug into his cheek, and “guys were just running into me, digging it into my face.” He needed 10 stitches to close the wound.
“Sometimes people like them, sometimes they don’t,” Shaw said. “I obviously don’t. They’ve cut my face open; they’ve cut my gums; they get into your teeth. You get hit in the boards, the visor comes down — the visor’s sharp, so it just cuts your mouth open.”
Current NHL players likely will be grandfathered in and allowed to play without visors should the rule pass.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is in favor of visors and limiting goalie equipment.
“I think visors are probably a good idea when you see Staal getting hit, the pucks flying around — even in practice, things can happen, errant sticks, so I think that’s probably a good thing,” he said. “Goalie equipment is something everybody talks about over time. Some guys do appear that they could be getting bigger and bigger, and that’s what we tried to stop a few years ago.”
NOTES: Marian Hossa isn’t likely to play Monday against the Kings. Hossa suffered an apparent shoulder injury during Monday’s game at Colorado. Joel Quenneville said he doesn’t think it’ll be a long-term injury. In the meantime, double-shifting Patrick Kane — as Quenneville did the last two games — remains a possibility. “It’s a great option,” he said. “But I think maybe we’ll put somebody [else] up there to start.”
◆ Patrick Sharp (shoulder) skated before practice Friday, but “he’s still not close,” Quenneville said. The original timetable had Sharp returning within the next two weeks, and Quenneville said “we’re probably in that time frame.”