“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

June 7, 2007

Crybaby Watch™: Cox Wishes They Were Bigger

Not exactly sure how I missed this a couple of days ago, but Damien Cox on ESPN.com has cast his vote for the the same silly gimmick oft-proposed by otherwise-heroic colleague John Buccigross.

The premise: goal scoring is down. The subtext: the more goals scored the better.

Cox blames defense first, which of course has become absolutely stifling in the past few seasons. He also cites the obvious:

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, all goaltending equipment was being revolutionized by new materials and ideas. While the size of goal pads had always been regulated, most of the rest of goaltending gear hadn't. Quite naturally, that motivated many to go bigger. And bigger.

The result was that, by the late 1990s, the available shooting area had shrunk drastically from the 1960s to the modern era.

So, the two reasons goal scoring is down are 1) defensive dominance and 2) bloated goalies. Obviously, the only solution is to make the goals bigger!

I'm no genius, but wouldn't it be easier just to tell the goalies "enough of the crap, you sissies" and draw up strict rules for their equipment sizing? It's not like that technology hasn't advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Thin is in. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the NHL would be much better if Martin Brodeur looked more like Ken Dryden.


Mike Thompson said...

I'm going to try really hard not to lose focus on this post. I want to ask you to take a long hard look at the type of players, shots, and equipment that was used in Dryden's day and in Brodeur's. Look at the skill level of the shooters and the goaltenders and how they affected each other. Watch a game today and count the number of shots that hit the goalie square in the chest. How about leg pad saves that are blocked along the first 6" off the ice? I hate to break it to ya, but the reducing the size of the equipment would not magically turn those myriad of shots into goals.

Sure, there are some instances where the goalie equipment has inflated to take away shooting area unnecessarily. Cheater bars on gloves and pants, huge shoulder floaters, and insane thigh-rises on pads. The league is aware of this and is has instituted limits for all of these. Could they be tweaked? Sure. Will it improve hockey? No. More scoring chances improve hockey, and until there is as much creativity on the offensive side of the puck as was garnered in the last ten years on the defensive side, the scoring chances won't improve significantly, be it with larger nets, or smaller goalies.

The truth is that goaltending, as a position, not just equipment, has progress very rapidly in a very short time. Positioning, athleticism, training, pre-game preperatation, etc. have turned today's goaltenders into elite athletes who simply are VERY good at their jobs. Equipment has very little to do with it, IMO.

BTW, the Forechecker has some interesting stats on the 'defensive dominance' in the last two season. 5-on-5 goals are actually much higher than they were pre-lockout. Overall goals aren't as inflated as last year, but I believe he said that 5-on-5 was up this year compared to last. That rapidly dispels the popular media theory that pre-lockout defensive dominance is back and stifling the game.

Dear Lord Stanley said...

I don't in any way disagree with you, and I'm sorry I didn't make it more clear that my desire to "make Brodeur look like Dryden" was not based on seeking more goals scored. I couldn't care less. I don't share the idea that scoring more goals would instantly "make hockey better" or any such nonsense I keep reading on ESPN.

I'd like to see "Brodeur look like Dryden" because I have an aesthetic affinity for hockey in the 1970s. It's purely superficial. I just like the way goalies looked back then.

You make excellent points. The object of my post was to illustrate what Damien Cox was saying and then suggest an alternative to his knee-jerk suggestion that the only "solution" to the supposed problem of low goal-scoring is to significantly alter a very fundamental aspect of the game. If he absolutely HAS to change something, why not alter something that has been pretty fluid anyway?

We are definitely on the same page here.

Mike Thompson said...

I agree that goaltending equipment has been more fluid than other aspects of the sport, but I just don't think, by and large, that reducing some of the equipment will result in any appreciable change to the game.

I'm in no way advocating larger nets because, like you, I HATE that idea. I consider it the only knock against Bucci. Even his man-crush on hockey-god Chris Drury can't overcome it.

Unfortunately, no one change will fix some of the perceived ills of the game. I personally would like to see the league focus all thier collective efforts into making officiating as consistant as possible. I think we'll see the league open up even more and the quality of offensive play drastically improve

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