Toronto Maple Leafs: New goalie equipment changes

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 16: Frederik Andersen
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 16: Frederik Andersen /

Starting next season, the Toronto Maple Leafs goalies will face a bigger challenge by wearing updated chest protectors. The design will be more fitted and is meant to increase goal scoring.

A big reason why there was so much scoring by the Toronto Maple Leafs and the rest of the NHL “back in the day” (before 2010) was because goalies were not great. Look at old Wayne Gretzky highlights and goalies might as well have been flailing construction cones.

With the development of sport and equipment, goalies have evolved and learned the importance of positioning. Equipment got more advanced, strategy improved, and they learned new skills.

Goal scorers used to run the game, but then the pendulum swung into the goaltenders’ favour. Instead of bringing goalies down, why can’t we improve the forwards?

It’s a lot like Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. A story about how everyone is finally equal because the strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

Just because goalies are playing well, it doesn’t mean we now have to limit them.

"The tighter pants became mandatory in February 2017, and the chest pieces were supposed to follow last year. That didn’t happen because the manufacturers couldn’t get it done…the new designs are sloped at the shoulders, less “boxy” overall and more contoured along the body, and have thinner elbows/forearms."

– Elliotte Friedman – 31 thoughts

Midway through the 2016-2017 season, we saw slimmed down goalie pants intended to make the amount of scoring increase. Here’s a chart from Hockey Reference that shows the league’s average goals allowed and save percentage.

League Averages


Before the goalie pants change, goals per game were going down. In 10 years, it went from over three a game to 2.71. Then, when the pants were introduced, goal scoring started going back up and in two seasons, we are almost back to three goals a game. (2.97)

That may be one way to look at the situation, but there are so many other factors that played a part in the increase in goals. Slim fit pants are at the bottom of that list.

In 2017-2018, we saw both the highest power play percentage (20.18 percent) and the lowest penalty kill percentage (79.82 percent) in over 13 years.

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After Connor McDavid entered the league, the NHL got collectively faster. There was more reliance on youth and skill over goons and bullies. The league as a whole is now progressing to a faster, more skill-based game and that is also helping increase goal scoring.

Goal scoring is fun to see, but one of the reasons hockey is so popular is because it is a reactionary sport. Events happen a mile a minute and seeing players react instantaneously is part of the fun.

Now, we’re trying to manufacture goals? The speed and skill of the new NHL is so much fun to watch and we don’t need goals to be entertained.

How does this equipment affect the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goalies?

Frederik Andersen is 6 foot 4 and 230 pounds. It’s safe to say that a shrink in his chest protector will not open many scoring chances. He is at his best when he’s always in the right position, so this rule change should not affect him too much.

Next: Andreas Johnsson leads Marlies to Calder Cup Final

Curtis McElhinney is a different story. He’s 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds, but he is much more of a reactionary goalie. His positioning is not the strongest and he uses every inch of his body and equipment to make saves. This equipment change could affect him, as he is 35 years old and it is hard to stray away from old habits.