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New Rules, a Tight Fit for Kolzig
Restrictions on Size of Goalies' Equipment Concern Capital

By Rachel Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 3, 1998

At 6 feet 3, Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig would never try wearing the same clothes as 5-8 Philadelphia Flyers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, but he was worried that was exactly what the NHL was going to ask him to do when it set size restrictions on goaltender equipment this summer.At 6 feet 3, Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig would never try wearing the same clothes as 5-8 Philadelphia Flyers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, but he was worried that was exactly what the NHL was going to ask him to do when it set size restrictions on goaltender equipment this summer.

"I don't want to look like the Michelin Man out there with some tight jersey on," Kolzig said recently. "I'm a big guy. My pads will bulge out and it will look like I had one too many doughnuts over the summer."

Some of the concerns of Kolzig and the other goaltenders in Capitals training camp were answered yesterday when hockey operations consultant Dave Dryden came by to discuss the new rules, which standardize measurements for goaltenders' chest and arm pads, pants, jersey and catching glove. Dryden stressed that he isn't looking to put goaltenders at risk of injury, although he does want to see equipment used only as protection.

In recent years, a few goaltenders instead were using bigger pads to help them block shots, a la Garth Snow and the shoulder pads that grazed the tops of his ears in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. Some goaltenders also were using oversized jerseys that were so long, some of the "five-hole" space between a goaltender's legs was covered from shooters.

But while the aim of the new rules is practical, many of the NHL's bigger goaltenders have been concerned with the execution. If a jersey can only be a certain size, they reasoned, a smaller goaltender still would have room to move around while a bigger goalie might find himself restricted. They were so concerned about it, in fact, that more than two dozen of them showed up at a special meeting in Toronto this summer to state their case to the league.

Rick Tabaracci, who was at that meeting, said the goaltenders felt their concerns were taken seriously, and Dryden's visits around training camps have reinforced that feeling of cooperation.

"Actually it went better than we anticipated," said Tabaracci, who is about 5-10. "Now we have some little issues that are protection issues with the elbows, and then the jersey thing is still a concern for Olie. But after they've gone through the league, I think they've realized there are some things that are going to need exceptions."

The new rules say players cannot wear anything bigger than a size 58 jersey; Kolzig wore a size 62 last season. "That's like a woman who wears a size 10 dress trying to fit into a size 6," Kolzig said yesterday. As a result, he and Dryden talked about the possibility of him wearing a size 60. Kolzig is also going to appeal the restriction on his elbow pads, which he said give him necessary protection against bone spurs and chips.

Tabaracci's main concern has been his pants, which are the permissible width but have more padding on the inner thigh than on the outer thigh. The league initially said the configuration is unfair, again because it covers the five-hole, but Tabaracci said yesterday he believes he will be allowed to play with the pants as they are.

"There will be exceptions, and people can appeal things based on their history of injuries," Dryden said. "A bigger guy should not be disadvantaged either, so that's why I'm coming around here, especially to talk to a guy like Olie. On the other side, there are certain rules that have to be followed, and it's my job to make sure they understand the rules."

During the season, goaltenders' equipment will be measured after games on a random basis, the same way goalies' leg pads were spot-checked last season. Any goalie with illegal equipment will be suspended one game.

While Dryden was mainly at camp to talk about equipment, Kolzig, Tabaracci and Mike Rosati also discussed some of the other rules changes that will affect goaltenders this season. The two biggest have been the nets, which have been moved two feet farther from the boards, and the goal crease, which was shortened significantly on the sides.

"Limiting the size of the crease really allows the opposition to control the net more," Kolzig said. "The other night against Philadelphia, they used that smaller crease to their advantage to the utmost. They just jammed the net, and it was tough for me to get any vision on the puck."


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