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The Malik Report

The goalie pad white/light color myth?

And now, for something not necessarily Red Wings-related:

Goalies are strange creatures, and I can confirm as much because I'm one of 'em. Before my back and a lack of health insurance sidelined me, I was happy to volunteer to fling myself in front of any and every sort of projectile that could be flung in my direction off the blades of hockey sticks, and it definitely takes someone slightly off-kilter to happily embrace such a fundamentally futile--and often painful--pursuit.

That being said, the viciousness and readily-admitted dirty play that took this goal-scorer-turned-checking forward back into the crease was replaced with focus and a certian sense of gallows humor, so I never became one of those super-intense, overly-competitive goalies that twitch and bark at you when you interrupt their superstitions, nor do I buy into certain somewhat superstitious maxims of the goaltending profession.

One of the biggest, "I don't know if it's true, but it works" maxims of goaltending is that wearing white or light-colored equipment makes you look "bigger," or tricks shooters into shooting pucks into you instead of shooting pucks past brightly-colored equipment. I liked losing black pucks and even orange street hockey balls in my black pads and blocker, and I wore a radioactive-lime green jersey...

But many goalies, and most NHL goalies, believe that white equipment yields better performance, and the Toronto Star's Andrew Livingstone reports that this annoys the hell out of equipment manufacturers...

“Stores have been purchasing all white,” said Sonya Dibiase, Reebok’s goalie product manager. “As a company where you want to have an identifiable brand and they white it all out, it’s starting to make all companies look the same.”

Dibiase told the Star late last week that rule changes regarding white goalie pads have been on the radar of Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s goaltending supervisor, although the league denies such a move is on the table.

“It’s such a relevant point that the NHL is looking at it to make changes in the rule books,” Dibiase said. “I have to believe if Kay Whitmore is talking about it, it must be something.”

But those who coach goaltenders insist that there's a competitive advantage to wearing white gear...

Hall of Fame netminder Patrick Roy is credited with beginning the trend when he had a white triangle put on his pads nearly 20 years ago. The idea was to make the area between his legs look larger and more open than it was, encouraging skaters to shoot there. What Roy started has become a mental advantage for netminders, said Chris Piku, a Detroit-based goaltending instructor and equipment designer for a number of professional goaltenders, including Ray Emery and Tim Thomas.

“In the NHL, you can’t pick it up well when the boards are white, the netting is pure white and the white goalie pads just help make the goalie less visible,” Piku said. “It creates an illusion in a split second (that) you see holes and there is no other reason than that.”

Karen Muncey, CEO of Dynamic Edge Sports Vision Training, a company that works with athletes to improve visual skills such as peripheral awareness and hand-eye coordination, said it’s logical that white pads would be an advantage over darker ones.

“It all goes back to that fact that if you’re presenting a dark outline, it gives (scorers) a much better place to not shoot,” she said. “If the pads are dark, they’re going to aim at the holes. So if you present them with a white pad or a little bit of a grey line that mimics the net behind them, with that fast rush up they have much less time to concentrate on the five-hole or other holes that are being presented.”

And Muncey plans on proving that the superstitious belief is in fact...A fact:

Muncey said she plans to launch a study this summer to determine what type of advantage white pads have over dark-coloured ones.

If my body, pocketbook and brain allow me to venture back into the crease, I'm going to buy a new set of pads, and I want them to be all Red Wings red.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


bleep bloop's avatar

Maybe all-white gives the goalies an advantage over shooters, but all-black gives the goalies and advantage over the reviewers

Posted by bleep bloop on 03/06/13 at 02:36 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.