Friday, November 4, 2011

Saving Face

The position of goaltender in the game of professional hockey is so specialized that no goalies play other positions, and likewise, no other players play goalie.  Because of the tremendous power of the shots of the puck towards the net, the goaltender wears special equipment designed to protect the body from direct impact. Goalies may use any part of their bodies to block shots, including their face and head. After receiving a seven-stitch laceration to the face in 1959, Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens, was the first goaltender to employ the practical fiberglass mask to protect his face, and since then the goalie masks have evolved to the full fiberglass helmet and cage combination most popular today. However, while the National Hockey League (NHL) specifies maximum dimensions of goaltending equipment to prevent goalies from having an unfair advantage, there is no agreement on the standards for goalie masks, only for other player’s helmets.

Every goalie wants to have the advantage – they want to see better, have an improved range of motion, use lighter and better fitting equipment, and they are willing to wear below standard equipment in protecting their head in order to have those advantages. Concussions have dominated the hockey news for the past year, losing some of its top players to the sidelines. According to CBC TV Sports, $118 million worth of goalies were injured by shots off the mask in the past year.

The NHL and its General Managers want three things to insure proper protection for the goalies:
  1. an inability for sticks and pucks to get through holes in the cage
  2. evidence that the forehead/jaw of a mask can withstand the most extreme forces the game can bring
  3. a minimum of ½” foam inside the shell
While comfort is important, safety for the goalie should always come first.

For more information, contact SIRC.

No comments: