Monday, November 14, 2011

Should the NHL protect goalie from being hit?

NHL VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan chose not to suspend Milan Lucic for running over Ryan Miller. Shanahan determined that the 2-minute charging penalty awarded by the referees was sufficient.

The decision guarantees that the hockey world will continue the debate the issue and of course the war of words between the Bruins and Sabres will also continue. And there will be a high level of interest in the rematch later this month.

The NFL has rules to protect quarterbacks but they are offensive players who come out to see. It's a bit of a stretch to suggest that NHL fans come out to see goalies. They come to see goals scored not stopped. Yet like quarterbacks, wins are hard to come by once NHL teams lose their starting goalies. Just look at the Maple Leafs over the past 3 weeks.

Goalies have a distinct advantage if they can play the puck outside the crease without getting hit. The NHL recognized this when they began penalizing goalies who play the puck in the corners. Goalies had been frustrating offenses by taking away the dump and chase. Some people feel that goalies should be fair game if they choose to leave their crease.

However, goalies have very little mobility with those huge pads they wear. That's why many NHL arenas feature goalie races. They look ridiculous bumping into each other. When Lucic collided with Miller, the goalie was stationery. I doubt he could have gotten out of the way if he had tried. For this reason it is unfair for the NHL to allow goalies to be hit - they often cannot avoid collision or protect themselves. They are literally sitting ducks.

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