Every November, the NHL’s general managers meet up in New York City for their annual general managers meeting. They discuss a variety of issues at these yearly rendezvous, and much of the agenda is set aside to discuss possible rule changes the NHL should consider.
These meetings have yielded a plethora of rule changes over the years, some of which have worked out well—taking out the red line for the two-line pass, for instance—and others that haven’t—the most recent coach’s challenge rule has been a disaster by most accounts.
One issue that seems to come up every year is the fact that goal scoring is dropping. Many ideas to fix this problem have been floated out there, with some being absolutely ludicrous (changing the size and shape of the nets? What?). At this season’s meeting, the league’s GMs finally settled on a strategy: shrinking the goalie equipment.
While this obviously isn’t the most popular course of action for the NHL’s netminders, it is the most logical one. If you look at the average NHL goalie now versus the average one back in the 1980s, it’s obvious that the equipment has ballooned to an unacceptable level. Plus, shrinking the equipment won’t alter the way a goalie has to approach the game; the angles are all still the same, unlike if they altered the size or shape of the nets.
The league finally decided to move ahead with the changes, so we can now all expect smaller goalie equipment to start 2016-17. Today’s list is going to spotlight the goalies who have, at one point or another, worn equipment that was way too big for them. Here are the top 15—enjoy:
14 Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov was always an entertaining interview. He had a reputation that he didn’t take things too seriously, and that nonchalant attitude made him endearing to fans wherever he went (even if it made him less competitive as an athlete, which is debatable).
There’s no question, however, that Bryzgalov’s equipment was way too big. When you saw him sitting on the bench (an area he became all too familiar with at the end of his NHL career), his head barely protruded from his gigantic shoulder pads.
13 Corey Crawford
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford is one of the more underrated goalies in the NHL today. All the guy does is win, but he gets almost no credit because that all seems to go to Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Duncan Keith in Chi Town.
Nonetheless, I have to call out Crawford here for his giant gear, most notably his shoulder pads. Those things are comically large, and he needs to be stopped.
12 Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom looks to take over as the no. 1 goalie in Vancouver next season, but to do so he’s going to have to learn how to stop the puck with reasonably sized goalie equipment.
Standing in his crease, Markstrom looks more like the Michelin Man than he does a human being, which is a problem, because by all accounts he’s actually a person. Stay tuned to see if Markstrom is negatively affected by the reduction coming in 2016-17.
11 Ben Bishop
To be fair, Ben Bishop is an absolute monster without equipment on, so perhaps he’s not as guilty as I think. However, all it takes is one look at Bishop to convince me that he’s deserving of a spot on this list.
Bishop stands tall at 6-foot-7, so he doesn’t look as thick as his brethren because of his stature. Don’t kid yourself, though; Bishop doesn’t even have to crouch to cover most of the net.
10 Laurent Brossoit
By far the most inexperienced NHL goaltender on our list is Edmonton Oilers prospect Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has only played five games in the NHL, and he’s still searching for his first win.
He’s a big guy to begin with (6-foot-3, 200 lbs.), but when you throw equipment on him he looks like the Marshmallow Man. It’s particularly the shoulder pads that stand out; when Brossoit drops to his knees, you still can’t see much of the net.
9 Glenn Healy
As you can now see on CBC broadcasts, Glenn Healy isn't the biggest guy walking around. When he was starting as a goaltender in the high-scoring era of the '80s, Healy had to look for any advantage he could in nets. His idea was to fashion a pad that could be attached to the side of his pants with Velcro. The extra bulk, he figured, would help him, but the move backfired. Healy recalls Jari Kurri slapping a shot hat hit the extra pad and rebounded into the net. For what it's worth, Healy is also on board with shrinking goaltending equipment.
8 Cory Schneider
A few seasons back, Brodeur passed the torch to Cory Schneider in New Jersey. Schneider is one of the most consistent puck stoppers in the league today, but there’s no question that he does it with the help of enormous padding.
Here’s the thing; when a goalie crouches down, and you can see his bulbous padding protruding from his XL jersey, you know it’s too big and probably needs to be greatly reduced in size.
7 Ryan Miller
I don’t really like Ryan Miller. I hate his body language towards his teammates when he surrenders a goal he thought could have been prevented by the defense, and in interviews he shows almost no humor. Have you ever seen him smile? Ryan—you’re a millionaire with a hot wife. Buck up, chum.
Miller’s not only a major buzz kill, but his equipment’s way too big. In addition, he’s also one of the more vocal opponents of shrinking goalie equipment, so screw him. Now I feel like I should have put him at no. 1.
6 Tommy Salo
Even the world’s biggest shoulder pads couldn’t help Tommy Salo recover from his infamous gaffe in the 2002 Olympics that cost Sweden the chance to advance. His career never seemed to be the same following that upset loss to Belarus in Salt Lake City.
He tried though, as his attempt to return to form in Edmonton after the incident proved fruitless, despite his huge padding.
5 Pekka Rinne
A lot of people were questioning Pekka Rinne this season as his play deteriorated. Many fans were even wondering if Nashville was better off starting Carter Hutton. Rinne rebounded and turned in a strong postseason performance, so now we can go back to talking about his comically large padding.
Rinne covers almost the entire net when he’s in a standing resting position. That’s not cool; we might have to call Rick Moranis for this one.
5. Roberto Luongo
I love Roberto Luongo for the opposite reasons I hate Ryan Miller. Luongo is a fun-loving guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s a better goalie than Miller will ever be. If you don’t follow @Strombone1 on Twitter, you’re missing out.
He and Miller do have one thing in common though, and that’s their gigantic padding. You could attach Big Lu’s equipment to mic stand and it would turn in a .750 save percentage.
4 Robin Lehner
Robin Lehner emerged as one of my favorite goalies to watch this season. He has a temper, which is always fun, and he carries with him a menacing demeanor.
Making him even more menacing in net is his goalie equipment, which is way too big for him. It looks like he’s wearing his gear over top of one of those fake muscle suits that George-Michael wore in Arrested Development when he was trying to hook up with his cousin Maeby.
3 Henrik Lundqvist
Quite possibly the most maligned culprit on our list is Henrik Lundqvist. All it takes is a simple Google search and you’ll find scores of memes that Lundqvist-haters have made that poke fun at the King’s gargantuan equipment.
There’s no piece of Lundqvist’s equipment that’s safe from this accusation, as you’ll see in your Google image search. Go ahead, try it.
2 J.S. Giguere
J.S. Giguere was anything but consistent during his NHL career, but he did have a habit of coming up big in the clutch. He’s one of just five NHL players to win a Conn Smythe Trophy in a year he didn’t win the Stanley Cup. Despite this, he was never known as the most reliable goalie.
One thing you could always rely on, however, is Giggy barely being able to squeak out of the tunnel to lead his team onto the ice due to his behemoth equipment.
1 Patrick Roy
Patrick Roy is widely regarded as one of, if not THE best goaltender in NHL history, and with good reason. He won four Stanley Cups (with two different teams), and he collected three Conn Smythe Trophies in the process.
Roy wasn’t guilty of wearing enlarged equipment in the early stages of his career, but when it became the norm across the league, he was the poster boy for it. Looking at some of the photos of Roy from his later days in Colorado, it’s a wonder how they fit the gear into the building.