Periodic musings from the desk of ...
Brodeur's big ideas, an Arbour of wisdom, and more
Posted: Thursday January 3, 2008 9:11AM; Updated: Thursday January 3, 2008 11:17AM
If the NHL could change its rules governing the way goalies handle the puck principally because of one player, that man, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, certainly deserves his say about another prospective rule change.
Brodeur, a once and perhaps future member of the NHL competition committee, favors tinkering with penalties to make them even more penal to the offending team.
Beyond a return to a full two-minute power play -- the success of the powerhouse Montreal Canadiens of the mid-1950s forced the NHL to end minor penalties after a single power-play goal -- Brodeur thinks the team that is killing the penalty should no longer be allowed to ice the puck.
The philosophical underpinning for the Brodeur Plan, floating around since the early years of the NHL's Dead Puck era, is unassailable: By being allowed to ice the puck without consequence, the penalized team is inherently rewarded. But while the objections to icing the puck with impunity while short-handed are solid, the practical concerns are a different matter. Whenever On The Fly has brought up the topic with a general manager during the past five or so years, the executive, after the requisite rolling of eyes, dismisses the idea out of hand.
"If you ice the puck now, you can't change," Brodeur said, "so you'd get tired penalty killers out against a fresh power play. That's a better advantage [for the team with the extra skater]. It'll force [penalty killers] to flip the puck like the in old days, land it soft, without icing it. They have to manage the game better, which is also a skill."
Maybe scoring chances are more important than goals, a position championed by Anaheim's astute general manager Brian Burke, but there has to be a goal payoff soon for a league that has watched totals drift to pre-lockout numbers -- even after the NHL started throwing in a goal for the winning team in shootouts. Clearly something more has to give. During the 2004-05 lockout, a group of about 10 goalies was gathered in a room in Detroit and shown, to their horror, three variations of bigger nets. The NHL said that unless equipment slimmed down, those nets would be the next step.
While hockey executives loathe adopting bigger nets in an effort to boost scoring, watch for goalie equipment to get a further trim next season -- with a twist. Instead of a one-size-all approach, the NHL, in conjunction with the Players Association, might consider a plan to customize equipment for goalies.
"I don't have a problem with it," Brodeur said. "One guy who's 170 pounds probably shouldn't look bigger than a guy who's 220. I've got 30 pounds on a lot of guys, but they look bigger than me because they're wearing size XXL pants. Look at (St. Louis goalie) Manny Legace. He's a small guy who wears 38-inch pads (in length), the maximum. Olaf Kolzig wears 38s, but he's 6' 4". There are a bunch of guys who should be wearing 36s. (Brodeur wears pads that are 34½ inches.) Because Legace is small, the pads are allowing him to cover areas that he probably shouldn't be covering. The way it is now, it isn't fair."