Is it time for larger nets?

Jonathan Willis
May 14 2013 11:46AM

NHL goaltenders have been improving, year-over-year, in nearly every season since the league started tracking save percentage. In the early 1980’s, an NHL team could expect to score 13 goals for every 100 shots it took; today, they can expect to score on less than nine.

Are bigger nets the answer?

League Average Save Percentage

The chart above shows the rise in save percentage over the time the NHL has recorded the statistic (data courtesy of QuantHockey).

The term “dead puck era” gets used a lot for that period in the mid-1990’s, but really it’s defined the Gary Bettman-run NHL. Bettman took over the league in February 1993; at the time the league-average save percentage was 0.885. It was up to 0.895 within one year, over 0.900 the next, and aside from a slight dip in 1995-96 it’s been going up ever since. In 2003-04, league-average save percentage hit a high at 0.911; it dropped following the lockout but matched that figure again in 2009-10 and has been that high or higher in every season since.

Larger Nets

Photo: Elliot/Wikimedia

Goal-scoring is a complex item that has to do with a lot of things – power play opportunities, the standard of officiating, coaching, player ability, player equipment and a host of other things. The 2005-06 dip was mostly a result of tightened officiating and increased power play opportunities, but either NHL teams have adapted or the standard has slipped because those power play opportunities have gone away and teams aren’t scoring more frequently at even-strength.

Larger nets address only one part of the problem, by making it easier to score once a player gets into shooting position. But addressing that one problem could help with the rest.

Part of the reason scoring has slipped is the prevalence of defensive systems. With modern goalies being so capable of stopping pucks, teams cannot consistently score their way out of trouble. What they can do is keep the other side from scoring, so my belief is that a low-scoring NHL is in some ways self-reinforcing; the rarer goals become, the more the emphasis is placed on preventing them.

Larger nets would allow teams to become more confident that getting shots will lead to getting goals, and should allow coaches to be more offence-focused – as well as placing more of a premium on guys who can score goals rather than guys who can prevent the other side from scoring goals.

Adaptation

The league adopted standardized nets (designed by Art Ross - he's the fellow on the far right in the front row, posing with the rest of the Kenora Thistles and the Stanley Cup) in the 1920’s, in the same season that forward passes were legalized in the neutral and defensive zones (but not the attacking zone). The NHL has fiddled with supports and the shape of the frame, but the basic dimensions of the net – 6’ by 4’ – haven’t changed since then.

What has changed is goaltenders, and goaltending equipment. Goalies are bigger than ever; goaltending equipment is both larger and weighs much less than it did in years past. Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock made this point recently as he voiced his support for larger nets:

If the goalies [are] getting bigger than the net is getting smaller. By refusing to change you are changing. Purists would say you can't do it because you're changing the game but by not changing you are changing the game.

Goaltending equipment has received lots of attention over the years, and rightly so, but for a 6’4” goaltender it doesn’t matter how form-fitting the equipment is – he’s going to take up a lot of room. Additionally, at some point cutting into goaltending equipment introduces injury risks – something that isn’t true with larger nets.

In general, I’m a traditionalist. But the game has changed in the slightly less than 90 years since forward passing was the league’s biggest hot-button rule issue, and changing the size of the net to help compensate for the tremendous increases in goaltender size, equipment and ability seems a logical step to take.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Racki
May 14 2013, 11:53AM
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I used to be opposed to any changes to the beautiful, perfect game.. but I'm firmly behind this now. I think the player's sticks are so much more capable of unleashing damage via a huge slapper or even wrister that a goalie has to protect himself better. They don't want to give up much more of that protection. The next most logical thing is to make the nets a bit bigger, then it keeps the goalies just as safe, but should increase scoring.

Not sure how much bigger the nets would have to get though.

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#2 Taylor Gang
May 14 2013, 11:58AM
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Racki wrote:

I used to be opposed to any changes to the beautiful, perfect game.. but I'm firmly behind this now. I think the player's sticks are so much more capable of unleashing damage via a huge slapper or even wrister that a goalie has to protect himself better. They don't want to give up much more of that protection. The next most logical thing is to make the nets a bit bigger, then it keeps the goalies just as safe, but should increase scoring.

Not sure how much bigger the nets would have to get though.

Larger equipment doesn't correlate to more protection. How does a wider pad suddenly give you more protection?

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#3 Taylor Gang
May 14 2013, 12:01PM
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I fail to see why the goalies should be punished just for being better. Besides, too many goals takes the electric feeling away from when they're scored.

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#4 Racki
May 14 2013, 12:02PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Larger equipment doesn't correlate to more protection. How does a wider pad suddenly give you more protection?

The NHL goalies complained that by reducing their equipment size they would be less protected. Ask them, not me.. I never played goal. And it wasn't just their goal pads on the legs that the NHL has been trying to reduce for years.

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#5 Rob...
May 14 2013, 12:03PM
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I'd rather see them expand the rink size to match European rink dimensions. In addition it'd be nice if they enforced the friggin rules of the game consistently throughout the season and playoffs. If you give players more room to skate and actually start penalizing teams for interference, hooking, tripping, boarding,... the number of goals will likely increase. That Leafs/Boston game was not hockey; it had more in common with an 1980's WWF Saturday Night Main Event.

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#7 Lego
May 14 2013, 12:12PM
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Bigger nets may increase the number of goals scored but it won't make the game any more exciting. In fact coaches may feel they have to lock it down even more to prevent the other team from getting shots.

Defense is easier to coach than offense, coaches need incentive to coach a more offensive style. Maybe a team gets 3 points instead of 2 if they win and they score 4 goals or more?

Or maybe they should just get rid of coaches all together! I've never seen the trap used in rec league.

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#8 Racki
May 14 2013, 12:13PM
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Rob... wrote:

I'd rather see them expand the rink size to match European rink dimensions. In addition it'd be nice if they enforced the friggin rules of the game consistently throughout the season and playoffs. If you give players more room to skate and actually start penalizing teams for interference, hooking, tripping, boarding,... the number of goals will likely increase. That Leafs/Boston game was not hockey; it had more in common with an 1980's WWF Saturday Night Main Event.

I'd love to see the NHL rinks expanded to Euro size, but the NHL probably won't ever go for it since that means less seats. But it'd be nice to see these Oilers with more space to work with.

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#9 Taylor Gang
May 14 2013, 12:13PM
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You can't really compare changing the dimensions of the net to the forward pass rule. Changing the size of the net is like switching the puck with a bouncy ball.

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#10 NewfoundlandOil
May 14 2013, 12:14PM
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I like the idea of a larger rink as well.

It seems to me that the game has morphed much more from hockey into what I like to call "bouncing puck". A lot hacking and whacking with the stick and a lot less players carrying the puck.

I think increasing the size of the net will just lead to the notion that goalies need to be big to be successful; similar to how size is emphasized now for defencemen and forwards in NHL rinks.

I'd like to see changes that speed the game up more and allow the puck carrier to be more elusive in each zone of play. Increasing the size of the ice surface seems the most logical approach and will likely help with scoring chances.

However increasing the size of the rink is a large facilities issue for most NA arenas that just won't have the extra seating capacity to offset seats lost in the bowl area.

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#12 Romulus' Apotheosis
May 14 2013, 12:19PM
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Yes.

This is a great idea.

"last goal wins" is infinitely more fun to watch than "first goal wins"

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#13 NewfoundlandOil
May 14 2013, 12:19PM
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JW, Is there anything in your mind that explains the nearly straight line increase in SP over the period.

If it was explained by equipment only (or any other singular rule change) would it not be represented by more acute increases in SP over 1-2 years. Seems the increase is very consistent.

Does the tail end of the plot indicate that SP has currently flat lined at just below .915? Is that enough scoring for entertainment value?

Have the shots per game dropped off over the same period? Scoring chances?

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#15 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:21PM
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No, the bigger nets are not the answer.

The answer is, bigger ice. And of course, better regulated and proper equipment on the goaltenders.

The current ice surface might have worked for the players in the 60's and 70', I believe todays players need more room to showcase their talents. Most of the game is just a big cluster#@$% in front of the net and along the boards, there is not much room for players to skate and stickhandle.

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#16 Georgio
May 14 2013, 12:21PM
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Lego wrote:

Bigger nets may increase the number of goals scored but it won't make the game any more exciting. In fact coaches may feel they have to lock it down even more to prevent the other team from getting shots.

Defense is easier to coach than offense, coaches need incentive to coach a more offensive style. Maybe a team gets 3 points instead of 2 if they win and they score 4 goals or more?

Or maybe they should just get rid of coaches all together! I've never seen the trap used in rec league.

I've played in lots of rec leagues where teams use versions of the trap. We used to use the left-wing lock a lot. It's not a coach that necessarily leads to defensive hockey - it is a win-at-all costs mentality. One that (admittedly) is not good to have in a rec league but it still common.

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#17 Romulus' Apotheosis
May 14 2013, 12:23PM
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Lego wrote:

Bigger nets may increase the number of goals scored but it won't make the game any more exciting. In fact coaches may feel they have to lock it down even more to prevent the other team from getting shots.

Defense is easier to coach than offense, coaches need incentive to coach a more offensive style. Maybe a team gets 3 points instead of 2 if they win and they score 4 goals or more?

Or maybe they should just get rid of coaches all together! I've never seen the trap used in rec league.

These ideas don't need to be posed as mutually exclusive.

The problem with the points system is that Bettman imposed the current system to create an inflated play-off race by evening out bubble teams... the idea wasn't to incentivize winning and scoring.

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#18 Oil Change
May 14 2013, 12:24PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

I fail to see why the goalies should be punished just for being better. Besides, too many goals takes the electric feeling away from when they're scored.

I believe anyone opposed to making changes to the NHL is either too young to remember good/exciting hockey or loves low event sports.

Watching hockey has become almost unbearable and that has been reflected in the Kings/Blues series and Rangers/Capitals. Lets not confuse bigger with better. Too say that Bishop or another large goalie is better than his predecessors is a ridiculous notion. The goalies got bigger and bigger every year and nobody in the NHL offices cared. It is only common sense to realize if you take up 90% of the net versus 60% the puck is more likely to hit you.

In regards to the comments on players shooting harder I'm sure for the most part that's true. I would say it has as much to do with player size and strength as it does with technology. Does everyone forget Al Iafrate shooting it well north of 100 mph 20 years ago in the All Star game?

I like my hockey goalies with athleticism. It's been so long that the kick save isn't even remembered. This is hockey and not Lacrosse. Go watch Grant Fuhr play as he was as exciting as any Oiler.

Bigger nets are going to be required at some point as people in general get bigger and the league continues to avoid ridiculous equipment. This was the same in other sports when they faced a cross roads ( the invention of the shot clock to prevent against a team scoring two points and then running around the court holding the ball for the rest of the game or the reduction in height of the pitching mound when hits were almost impossible).

I do have a question if anyone can answer it........ Back in the day the Odd in Buffalo was a smaller rink and the Garden in Boston was smaller. As such they built their teams around playing that style, could the oilers build a little bigger rink within reason to allow for a quicker more finesse game? Baseball parks are different size and it makes the game much better. With that said I am talking minor tweaks not Olympic to NHL.

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#20 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:28PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It's not about punishing goalies, it's about restoring balance.

If it is about restoring balance, then let's restore the balance to offensive players. Let's make the ice bigger and force the defensemen to actually skate and chase players, let's force the goalies to move quicker and have more angles to cover. I'd bet that if the ice was bigger, the goalies would make their equipment smaller and leaner just so they can move better and quicker.

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#21 Quicksilver ballet
May 14 2013, 12:29PM
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Start with pushing the boards back 2 or 3 feet in all directions. With the larger/stronger and faster players and equipement in the game today, it's the only change that would make sense.

I know teams squabble about the lost revenue losing a row of seats, but with the professional leagues starting to be possibly held accountable for brain injuries, it may be the lesser of two evils. The almighty dollar is still much more important than player safety. Bump the surface size up to 90' across and 210' in length.

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#22 MarcusBillius
May 14 2013, 12:33PM
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If anything, the nets should be one or two inches wider, but four-six inches taller. Make goalies stand up again.

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#23 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:34PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Nonsense. Adding an inch to either size and to the top of the net is a pretty small change that will have a substantive impact on the number of goals. We're hardly in bouncy ball territory here; we're compensating for the fact that goalies used to be 5'8" and now they're all 6'2".

Who started using the 6'2" goalies instead of the 5'8"ers?

The league and the GMs did. There wasn't a big pool of good goalies to invest in, so the league and the teasm decided to just throw big ass equipment on average, big body goaltenders, just to slow the scoring down.

The league didn't have a big pool of offensive threats for every team, the few teams that did would light up the bad teams and their 5'8" goalies. To make the game more competative the league put big equipment on big goalies to slow the offence down. They also allowed their crooked refeeres to let a lot of penalties slide, and make phantom powerplays for worse teams to stay in the game.

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#24 CDean
May 14 2013, 12:36PM
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If the league wants more goal scoring then they should make it a non-contact sport. That would allow all the small speedy scorers that get pushed around to play and add more additional talent to every team.

Even though I say this and believe this is true, I don't want to see it happen, I want more hitting, but I think they need to look at the equipment and take out the hard plastic in the upper body that causes the injuries.

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#25 NewfoundlandOil
May 14 2013, 12:37PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Although I like the idea of larger ice I see your point and agree they are issues.

Is there a correlation (or inverse correlation) between the rink size (KHL, SEL, etc.) and save percentage?

Looking at rough Average SP for the SEL I get the following:

1984-1985: 0.868 1995-1996: 0.882 2004-2005: 0.903 2012-2013: 0.917

So it would seem to be a phenomena independent of ice size or league, but something globally changing with the game on an incremental basis (e.g. fitness, better player development/training, equipment, etc.)

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#26 bored
May 14 2013, 12:38PM
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Let's make the nets bigger! Absolutely. Anything that makes me not prefer the NBA playoffs over the NHL playoffs is fine by me. However, the NBA Playoffs have been great...

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#27 MarcusBillius
May 14 2013, 12:38PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

No way, make the nets bigger. Bigger ice doesn't help - look at European scoring. More than that, if you look at the size of a goaltender compared to the size of the real estate he occupies - the net and crease - goalies have proportionally taken up a huge amount of space. Players compared to the ice surface, even any individual zone, and the relative growth is almost zero.

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#28 Funman
May 14 2013, 12:41PM
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I think by enlarging the nets, you will virtually eliminate any goalie under 6.2. I say do away with the Bettman point. 2 points for a win 0 for a loss, regardless if it's reg,overtime or shootout.

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#29 Quicksilver ballet
May 14 2013, 12:42PM
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5" wider and 3" taller would make all shots that hit the post/crossbar this past season goals. That's a dramatic increase in goals for/against.

An average or 3 posts/crossbars per game would have increased goal scoring by almost 50%. Address both, goals for/against and player safety by increasing both, the ice surface and the nets.

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#30 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:42PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm actually not a fan of larger ice, for two reasons:

1) Expense means it will never happen and

2) KHL games use the larger ice surface and tend to be much more passive than NHL games.

I like hitting, I like the high-event game the NHL is. I just think there needs to be something done to counteract the downward trend in goal-scoring.

What is the expense? What numbers is the league looking at?

What KHL teams do you follow?

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#31 MarcusBillius
May 14 2013, 12:43PM
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@Funman

Goalies under 6'2 are obsolete anyway. Go look at recent drafts. You'll find more netminders over 6'5 than you will 6' or under.

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#32 MarcusBillius
May 14 2013, 12:45PM
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@Eddie Edmonton

Rebuild rinks, lose seats. Primo gold seats.

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#33 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:45PM
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CDean wrote:

If the league wants more goal scoring then they should make it a non-contact sport. That would allow all the small speedy scorers that get pushed around to play and add more additional talent to every team.

Even though I say this and believe this is true, I don't want to see it happen, I want more hitting, but I think they need to look at the equipment and take out the hard plastic in the upper body that causes the injuries.

When the ice gets bigger, then smaller speedy forwards can come and play. They can take the jobs of the Parros and those type goons that can't play the game properly. You can still keep hitting in the game, it will just make it hard for players like Strudwick to hit and chase guys like Omark.

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#34 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 12:48PM
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MarcusBillius wrote:

Rebuild rinks, lose seats. Primo gold seats.

I'm pretty sure not every seat in every NHL for every NHL team is sold out. Losing a few rows in New Jersey would make the place look fuller than it is. Primo gold seats? There will still be a row 1, they wont take rows out and have you sit in row 6, even thou you're right next to the glass.

I believe there is 4-6 rinks in the NHL that can't be converted to international ice, and that is the biggest and current problem that the NHL is facing for big changes.

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#35 MarcusBillius
May 14 2013, 12:50PM
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@Eddie Edmonton

OK, the Leafs make money hand over fist and they *still* raise ticket prices after losing seasons and they jacked prices for playoffs by 75%. Guys get paid millions of dollars per year to play hockey. There's NEVER enough money.

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#36 vetinari
May 14 2013, 12:51PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm actually not a fan of larger ice, for two reasons:

1) Expense means it will never happen and

2) KHL games use the larger ice surface and tend to be much more passive than NHL games.

I like hitting, I like the high-event game the NHL is. I just think there needs to be something done to counteract the downward trend in goal-scoring.

I think that it is tactics and coaching which have made the biggest changes to the game in the last 20 years and that changing the size of the ice surface has the greatest potential for stimulating offence and goal production.

I have to admit, I love Olympic hockey on the larger ice surfaces and would like to see it tried in NHL rinks as I find that it creates a faster game.

I do agree with you that the cost will be prohibitive for most teams, either to retro-fit their existing stadiums or to build new ones, but the NHL could make it mandatory in all new rinks going forward and eventually all rinks would be compliant.

And although there is typically less hitting, larger rinks requires defencemen to be smarter and pick their moments rather than bottleneck the front of the net and simply push offensive players to the outside. It also allows forwards to gain the zone and actually carry the puck rather than do a continual game of dump-and-chase.

As for changing the size of the nets, it feels like we would need to put an asterisk next to the goal totals for players going forward because some would get the benefit of a bigger target to aim at during their careers than others (would breaking Selanne's rookie total of 76 goals in a season have the same meaning and importance to a player or to fans if that player had an extra inch or two per side and top to work with?)

Just my thoughts...

v.

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#37 Funman
May 14 2013, 12:54PM
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MarcusBillius wrote:

Goalies under 6'2 are obsolete anyway. Go look at recent drafts. You'll find more netminders over 6'5 than you will 6' or under.

I don't think Anaheim or LA would agree with you. Quick- 6.1 Bernier- 6.0 Hiller-6.2, Fasth-6.0. Those two teams would be in a huge hole if the nets are enlarged. Calgary and Detroit are two teams also with smallish goalies.

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#38 Romulus' Apotheosis
May 14 2013, 01:01PM
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Once again... these ideas aren't mutually exclusive. There is no need for us to discuss them in that manner.

That said, a couple of practical things ought to be acknowledged:

1. Losing 5 rows of ticket sales is not going to go well. and the old boys are committed to the "speed" and "hitting" of the NHL game on the small ice. Bigger ice is a much harder sell.

2. there is no reason a shorter goalie (6' - 6'2") couldn't remain competitive through athleticism. Also, expanding the net could be done in a lopsided fashion, i.e., wider but not much taller. that would level the playing field.

3. they could also stick with the hard-on for penalties they have in the beginning of the year for the whole year.

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#39 StHenriOilBomb
May 14 2013, 01:04PM
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This change may actually be the best possible solution to the Canucks' cap woes.

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/hockey/story.html?id=11079269-aa0e-431a-a50f-423e9847edb1

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#40 Eddie Edmonton
May 14 2013, 01:06PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

This change may actually be the best possible solution to the Canucks' cap woes.

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/hockey/story.html?id=11079269-aa0e-431a-a50f-423e9847edb1

#@$% the Canucks.!..

Take that garbage elsewhere.

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#41 Spaceman Spiff
May 14 2013, 01:10PM
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Is it time for larger nets? Actually, here are some follow-up questions to that question... Is the NHL ready for the increase in goal-scoring? Are goalies prepared to be victimized a few more times each year? Are coaches/GMs prepared to see their goalies victimized a few more times each year? Are fans going to be OK watching their goalies give up goals that they know would have rang off the post or crossbar a few years ago?

In other words, is the league ready, in terms of its “culture” (for lack of a better term) to accept that goalies aren’t going to be able to get to shots in time?

For old-timers like me who remember the goal rush of the 1980s, the past 20 years of steadily declining offence has been a bit, well, disconcerting. It’s pretty amazing nowadays how VITALLY important the goaltending position has become, in terms of survival in an 82-game season.

That’s not to say that goaltending wasn’t important in 1985 – it most certainly was – but you didn’t really need GREAT goaltending to get you to the playoffs. Of course, a big reason for that was because 16 of 21 teams got in each year, but I do think that teams focused more on their offence back in the day. You didn’t really “need” great goaltending until the playoffs ... and, fortunately in Edmonton, the Oilers always had it.

But now, with the steady erosion of the offensive talent pool due to expansion to 30 teams ... plus bigger stronger, players ...plus better training for goalies ...plus a playoff format that had made almost every game of an 82-game schedule almost NFL-level in its importance, the NHL has slowly morphed into a goalies’ league. And, as an entertainment commodity, that ain’t good.

Make the nets bigger. Make the ice bigger. Make it a scorer’s league again.

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#42 westcoastoil
May 14 2013, 01:10PM
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Watched the Oil in Denver near the end of the season and also flipped to the game in Calgary - I'm not sure what the difference is, but the ice surface in Colorado was marginally bigger than Calgary's and it did make a positive difference. Point being I don't think you need to go all the way to the Euro size, but even a marginal increase of taking the first row of seats would make a big difference, but still keep the contact aspect of the game.

Not opposed to changing the net size, but the question then is at what level do you bring it in? I can't expect coaches/gms are going to want a goalie's first taste of a bigger net to happen at the NHL level.

Equipment can be downsized without increasing injury - eg. take the cheater out of the glove and have it taper at the wrist.

Q: If you change the points awarded in a game to 3 for a reg. (awarding more points from an OT game vs. a reg. win is ridiculous anyway) will coaches press for more offense, or will they be even more inclined to get the 1-0 lead and then try and lock it down for 2 periods?

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#43 Gerald R. Ford
May 14 2013, 01:11PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm actually not a fan of larger ice, for two reasons:

1) Expense means it will never happen and

2) KHL games use the larger ice surface and tend to be much more passive than NHL games.

I like hitting, I like the high-event game the NHL is. I just think there needs to be something done to counteract the downward trend in goal-scoring.

They HAVE to make the ice surface bigger, eventually. It's not an option. Players are only going to keep getting bigger and faster. Lanes are smaller than ever, and get closed faster than ever. If the size of the ice remains a constant, eventually you could be playing with empty nets the size of stately Katz Manor, and you'll still see 0-0 games.

The NHL has to get over the expense argument of lost revenue. Yes, in the short run, it would be expensive. In the long run, the game is a better, more watchable, product that you can sell more easily.

There would still be a lot of hitting. Just less offensive inertia. I kind of feel there's an inherent passivity to the KHL that is separate to the ice size issue...

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#44 Truth
May 14 2013, 01:11PM
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No to bigger nets. There is nothing wrong with the game as it is currently played. Goalie equipment size is currently limited by the NHL, according to the NHL, to be "constructed solely for the purpose of protecting the head or body, and he must not wear any garment or use any contrivance which would give him undue assistance in keeping goal." Therefore, we know equipment sizes likely isn't going to change and shouldn't become an issue.

Just because goaltenders now are far superior to their predecessors shouldn't mean the game gets changed. Goalies are obviously more skilled now then they were 20 years ago. All it takes is to watch a taped game from two decades ago to realize this. Teams are using bigger goalies because they are more effective at stopping the puck than smaller ones, it's as simple as that. That will only be more prevalent if the net changes, less emphasis on goalie skill, more on size.

What concerns me is this being a change solely to fabricate more scoring into the game. A 2-2 game with 30 combined scoring chances is just exciting as a 6-6 game with 30 scoring chances, IMO. The increasing difficulty in scoring is forcing the game to be more skilled.

Lacrosse can be used as an example of skill necessary to score; goalies are gigantic and cover approx. 95% + of the entire net when standing stationary in it but combined goals in a game often reach 20 and above. This is due to the fact that lacrosse players have an extremely greater ability to control the ball in their stick and to make plays with the ball than hockey players.

If Lacrosse was to institute NHL size nets the game would be much less entertaining. The high skill passing plays and dekes required to get goalies moving in order to score would be reduced and an increase in perimeter shots would be seen. Same goes with Hockey, let the players adapt to the better goalies so that better plays and greater skill will be required to score the goals.

I would guess that the advocates of bigger nets are the same that were for the implementation of a penalty for a puck flipped over the glass in the defensive zone and penalties for getting kicked out of the faceoff circle twice consecutively. Horrible rules that are solely made to fabricate more scoring. In no way do they better the game of hockey, IMO.

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#45 westcoastoil
May 14 2013, 01:15PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

This change may actually be the best possible solution to the Canucks' cap woes.

http://www.canada.com/topics/sports/hockey/story.html?id=11079269-aa0e-431a-a50f-423e9847edb1

It's interesting that that article came from 2007. It's nice to see how much the NHL strives to always improve their product for the fans. No wonder the have lousy tv contracts in the states.

more goals = more excitement = more fan interest = more revenue

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#46 Rob...
May 14 2013, 01:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm actually not a fan of larger ice, for two reasons:

1) Expense means it will never happen and

2) KHL games use the larger ice surface and tend to be much more passive than NHL games.

I like hitting, I like the high-event game the NHL is. I just think there needs to be something done to counteract the downward trend in goal-scoring.

I like hitting too, but the hits I like are the ones that cause the opposition to cough up the puck. Too many teams couldn't care less about the puck and just go in to crush somebody.

I'd be curious to know if the concussion/injury rates are as high on the European ice surface. If the increased size means marquee players are more likely to end their careers on their own terms instead of being forced out by injuries I'm sure the revenue gained from sources other than seats will compensate for the loss.

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#47 westcoastoil
May 14 2013, 01:19PM
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Gerald R. Ford wrote:

They HAVE to make the ice surface bigger, eventually. It's not an option. Players are only going to keep getting bigger and faster. Lanes are smaller than ever, and get closed faster than ever. If the size of the ice remains a constant, eventually you could be playing with empty nets the size of stately Katz Manor, and you'll still see 0-0 games.

The NHL has to get over the expense argument of lost revenue. Yes, in the short run, it would be expensive. In the long run, the game is a better, more watchable, product that you can sell more easily.

There would still be a lot of hitting. Just less offensive inertia. I kind of feel there's an inherent passivity to the KHL that is separate to the ice size issue...

Totally agree - this is where the league is short sighted: believing the revenue lost by 1 row of seats can't be made up through greater merchandise sales and better tv contracts.

When only a fraction of your games are entertaining, there aren't many folks in the US that will convert to watching and enjoying the sport.

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#48 madjam
May 14 2013, 01:20PM
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Changing net size might change goalie dynamics and ones like Luongo would rather not play if they do . Maybe just do away with goalies altogether ? It should have been slowly increased already in correlation to equipment size alone . Opening up the game is not necessarily adding more ice surface to do so . Start with 2by2by2 for starters . 2 inches each way . Secondly do away with the additional padding and webbing catching glove( fish net size ) and blocker gloves . Now , game on .

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#49 Romulus' Apotheosis
May 14 2013, 01:20PM
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League contraction ought to be blue skied here too.

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#50 Funman
May 14 2013, 01:22PM
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Here's an idea from left field; what if you get 2 pts for a win, 3 pts if you score 3 or more goals - overtime included and 2pts for a shootout win and 0(zero) pts for a loss?

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