Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Elliote Friedman re: what can we do to make goalie masks safer

It looks like it wasn’t just George Malik (and thank you George, for the drill-down on my post!) and myself who were thinking that someone or someones need to take a better look at how to deal with the current state of goalie masks. Elliote Friedman explores this in his CBC/HNIC column:

It’s been almost a decade since a shot off Mike Richter’s head ended his NHL career and teams are still fighting with their goalies over mask safety.

“Someone could go out there wearing Jacques Plante’s mask from 1960, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” one GM said last week. That’s true. The league and its netminders built consensus on pads, chest protectors and gloves but there is no agreement on masks.

That is going to change. And, this is one situation where the GMs are correct. In the last 10 months, $118 million worth of goalies (Rick DiPietro, Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller) were injured by shots off the mask. (And Pekka Rinne was very lucky to escape serious damage when his was smashed in the preseason.) I understand that these goalies want to be comfortable in their equipment, but there has to be a sensible solution.


  There’s two items in the column that I wanted to comment on:

The NHL and its GMs want three things: an inability for sticks/pucks to get through holes in the cage; proof that the forehead/jaw of a mask can withstand the force of a Zdeno Chara blast; and a minimum of 1/2-inch foam inside the shell.

None of those things is guaranteed now. For example, it’s believed goalies are shaving the foam down to as little as 1/4-inch so their eyes can be closer to the puck.

The league could also suggest approving several prototypes that goalies would be allowed to choose from. Much of the dispute surrounds the makers themselves. For example, the masks we showed on Hotstove came from Eddy Schulz, the Toronto-based maker of “Eddymasks.” His product is very well-respected. Hiller’s mask is made by a Swiss friend of his, and that’s a real concern, because no one really has an idea of the quality control.

“This should not be about comfort,” the above GM said. “This should be about safety first, and then comfort.”

Goalies are notorious natural-born engineers, That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since that’s where a lot of ideas for improving the product comes from. However, when refitting the equipment takes away from what the equipment was designed to do, that’s a seriously bad deal.  If the goalie is uncomfortable in the mask, they’re going to mess with the mask. And if the goalie thinks goals are being scored because they can’t "see" properly out of the mask, you bet they’re going to mess with the mask.

So, the mask has to work. And the mask should be tested. That way you get around the problem of who made the mask. Start with the ASTM standard, and get that updated (2005? Seriously?). Work with the goalies to make the mask work. And then enforce it.

This has to be made to work—for everyone’s sake.

Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: goalies, masks, nhl


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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!