Goalie gear officially shrinks in September

Hockey Canada's new goalie gear requirements kick in this September, meaning minor hockey players should be down to size and up to speed with what they wear between the pipes.

Parents, players should be up to speed and down to size for next season

As every hockey parent knows, hockey gear costs a fortune.

And if a parent's child plays goal, that financial nightmare is even worse.

So if parents unknowingly purchase equipment that doesn't meet legal standards, they might be a little annoyed — or a lot. It's why parents of goalkeepers should pay special attention to the 2009-10 season.

Goalie equipment has entered a new dimension. Literally.

After the NHL lockout, the league announced new size standards for goalie equipment, and in May 2006, Hockey Canada stated it would follow the NHL's lead. This fall, the new equipment standards for those between the pipes will be in place.

The new rules

New rules apply to goalie leg pads, chest-body armour, the blocker and catcher.

  • Under the new sizing, the width of goalie pads cannot exceed 11 inches. The former maximum was 12 inches. The length cannot be greater than 38 inches.
  • The new rules also state that protective padding attached to the back of, or forming part of the goaltender's blocker glove, should not exceed eight inches in width or 15 inches in length.
  • Rules further stipulate that a goalie glove "shall be restricted to a maximum of eight inches in width, which is to include any attachments added to that glove."
  • Other regulations include more details about the catcher, layering at the elbow, shoulder cap protectors and shoulder clavicle protectors. Exact measurements can be found on the Hockey Canada website.

The policies also apply to junior, senior and university-level teams.

Players ill-equipped for the change won't be able to hit the ice, and if they're caught playing in illegal gear, they'll get a minor penalty.

Hockey Canada's manager of officiating, Todd Anderson, says there isn't any reason for goalies to be unprepared.

"We gave the manufacturers, players and parents an opportunity to bring in the new sizing. And we did it so they could do that as part of the normal process of … updating their equipment," he said, adding Hockey Canada publicized the rule change via news releases, website announcements and through its member branches.

"I'm ready for it. I was two years ago. My son's been wearing new legal size for two years," he said.

Doesn't mind changes

Junior A goalie Scott Ismond has been playing back-up for the Victoria Grizzlies during the RBC Cup, and doesn't mind the equipment changes.

"I actually prefer the 11-inch pads to the 12 inch because it's easier to move," he said. "They're mainly taking away from spots that are excess to give the players more room to shoot."

Ismond doesn't think those looking to buy up-to-date equipment should have difficulty finding it in stores.

Most carry the 11-inch leg pads, he said, but parents and players might want to try a goalie-specific retailer first.

"With a generic store … the staff are trained to a minimum in a lot of sports, they may not be the best to approach," he said.

"The Vaughn pads that I use are the regulation 11 inches. There's a flag on the inside of the knee cradle that says it meets the new regulations, so you want to look for the label," he added.

Checked out stores

CBC Sports sent customers to various retailers to see if they would sell illegal equipment.

At Victoria's Sports Traders, a salesperson said the store didn't carry or sell any illegal equipment and won't accept any as a trade item. The staff member knew the new size regulations for each piece of goalie equipment.

Staff members in a Victoria Sportchek, however, weren't able to give the legal size requirements. The pads they carried were labelled but only indicated the length.

Kirby's Source for Sports, also in Victoria, carried pads with a 12-inch width. The oversized gear was marked down in price, however, and sales staff would only sell it to customers who wanted it for leagues operating outside Hockey Canada jurisdiction.

The other pieces of goalie gear were only available in the new sizing.

A similar pattern occurred with stores in Ontario: hockey-specific retailers were more knowledgeable of the new standards than more generic sports outlets.

Scott Oakman, executive director of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, said Hockey Canada has worked with manufacturers to ensure the changes were introduced in a manner that gave consumers time to adapt.

Oakman was not aware of any complaints from parents.

Anderson said while there were some objections to the changes in the beginning, complaints had eased.

"Initially, we heard concerns about how quickly [the set of changes] was coming in, but that [came before] people knew there was more time to prepare," he said.

With files from Kevin Light, Jason Cassidy