Wayne Gretzky joins growing call for angled NHL goalposts

Perhaps not surprisingly, many goalies are not in favour of changing post design: sportscaster

Posted: December 04, 2015
Last Updated: December 04, 2015

Wayne Gretzky recently threw support behind a decade-old idea which would see the sides of NHL goalposts flattened to help direct pucks toward the net.

It's a goal-making change that would give the Mighty Ducks' Gordon Bombay pause for thought — and now the Great One has weighed in, in favour.

In a recent interview with the Toronto Sun, Wayne Gretzky spoke out in favour of introducing angled goalposts into the NHL. Rather than the current rounded posts, which tend to deflect pucks away from the net, the flattened posts would increase the chances of post shots making it into the net.

The idea is not a new one. It was first put forward about a decade ago by Francois Allaire, a legendary goaltending coach who now works for the Colorado Avalanche.


Allaire has suggested the circular goal posts could be reshaped into rounded-off rectangles, with a flat surface angled inward so that shots that hit the inside of the post or crossbar have a better chance of bouncing into the net for a goal.

Jonathan Willis, a sportswriter who reports for Sportsnet, Bleacher Report, Oilersnation and The Edmonton Journal, is also a fan of the idea, which he says would help solidify the NHL's 'entertainment' quotient.

"They've been trying to years to increase goal scoring, but they seem to prefer to take a sort of tinkering approach rather than making fundamental changes."

If the change was made, Wilson estimates that about half of the shots that hit the goal posts could end up in the net, unless stopped by the goaltender.

"It's not a game changer, it's not going to fundamentally alter the league, but it is something that would give you an incremental increase in goals and battle some of the improvements made in goaltending over the past few years," Willis said Friday.

Rounded posts hurt true talent moments

The problem, Willis said, is that NHL goalies have gotten bigger over the years, making it increasingly difficult to get the puck past them.


"If you're six-foot-five now, you're not some gargantuan monster like you would have been in 1980."

At the same time, advances in equipment have also favoured goaltenders.

Those factors combined mean lower-scoring games — and that hikes the chances of a random event or lucky shot deciding the outcome of the game, rather than giving true talent a chance to stand out, Willis said.

"Now, if you go into the third period with a two-goal lead, you're pretty much always going to win. If you go in with a one-goal lead, you're going to have a fantastic chance of winning," he said.

"Oilers fans may be chuckling here, thinking about them not winning going into the third period, but for most teams the fall in goal scoring has resulted in games that are pretty much over as soon as one team gets a two-goal lead."

Willis said it would be easy to test the design change at the American League level.


Not surprisingly, he said most goalies have traditionally fought the change, even though it wouldn't require them to change the way they do their jobs.

"As a rule, when pucks go off the inside of the post it's a puck the goalie was intending to stop in the first place. It just means he's going to get a little less help from his red iron friends."

Listen to the full interview: