Blog Entry

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 3:55 pm

By Brian Stubits

What better time than after the Hall of Fame ceremony for the GMs to gather and discuss the issues of the day? After all, most of them are already in town for the festivities anyway.

The item on the morning agenda of the meetings? It truly was the top issue of the day: goaltender safety. Spurred by the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, the rules regarding goaltenders outside the crease have been a hot topic. While the rulebook clearly states a goalie is not fair game anywhere on the ice, it has been a muddy conversation.

From the sounds of Blues GM Doug Armstrong, it was more a matter of clarification than anything else for the GMs.

“Just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, that when they’re out on the open ice, that they’re going to be protected,” Armstrong said. “We do want continued play in front of the net, but we want to make sure that when they’re outside the [blue] ice, that they’re protected.”

The best way that people are describing the protection of goaltenders is to draw the parallel to football and the quarterback. In football, the QB has become like an endangered species, seemingly any affront to his safety has been squashed. Drives a QB into the ground after a pass? Personal foul. Same goes for when a scrambling QB slides to the ground.

“In my opinion, I think we have to [protect goalies like QBs],” Penguins GM Ray Shero said. “I’m not talking about plays around the crease, because there will be incidental contact ... We’re talking about a regular season game, we’re talking about the incident with Lucic and Ryan Miller. You get into a playoff series and if these guys are going to be coming out to play pucks, and you can run them over and get a two-minute penalty, then I think you’re going to open up a pretty dangerous set of circumstances.

“Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there’s only 60 goaltenders in the league, and we have to be pretty careful in terms of, if they’re going to play puck outside the crease, what should be fair,” Shero said. “We’ll continue to look at it, and probably talk about it much more at the March meeting, as well.”

Is it a bit reactionary? Of course. The Lucic/Miller incident is fresh and was pretty uncommon. But the reactions after the hit proved the need for some clarification on the matter, even if it was as simple as getting rule 69.4 spread around for everybody to see.

This is where Brendan Shanahan's decision not to suspend Lucic, for the hit comes into play a bit. Many, myself included, believed that if nothing else a token suspension was called for against Lucic, something to make it clear that goalies can't be run over. But Shanahan believed Lucic did not intend to hit Miller and that it was more of an unfortunate collision. He reiterated the point to the GMs that goalies will be protected and offenders could still be suspended. From Pierre LeBrun of

"Shanahan told GMs that players should NOT read into Lucic ruling that goalies are fair game. Quite the opposite, Shanahan warned GMs."

The GMs don't want to see more incidents like it and want to nip it in the bud now before frontier justice like that alluded by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knocks another goaltender out for a period of time. I believe for most GMs it's a matter of self-preservation if anything else (in this case self being their team's interests).

“That’s going to be the message to our team -- the goalies are not fair game,” Shero said. “If the guy’s going to play it outside the crease, you have to be pretty careful.”

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I believe the root of that statement from Shero comes out of the fear of losing Marc-Andre Fleury for some time.

As for rest of the meetings, also on the schedule was the 1-3-1 trap that caused such a stir last week after the bizarre scene between the Flyers and Lightning which led to a stalemate. To that, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman gave a reasonable response, saying they don't want to overreact to something that has only happened once. Perhaps Flyers GM Paul Holmgren put it best: "I'd like to see us attack the situation a little bit differently than we did last game."

The other big item on the docket was realignment, something Flyers chairman Ed Snider brought up again in Toronto. But right now that's all just chatter among the GMs. The decision on realignment will made at the Board of Governors meeting in December.

All of these conversations and more will get hashed out again in March the next time the GMs gather.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Jan 11, 2008
Posted on: November 16, 2011 8:57 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

To maz and lizard,

Please take the time to read my previous post, then pull your heads out of your buts and use some common sense. The rule says that goalies are not fair game, but it's a crap rule. Goalies are already protected TOO MUCH, it's time for a change and for Miller to man up or leave the NHL.

Since: Nov 22, 2007
Posted on: November 16, 2011 5:50 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

Well, dex, there is the rulebook and then there is your fantasy world.  Guess which one 'goalie is free game' falls under.

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: November 16, 2011 5:02 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

Hey Dex, who has siad that you can't touch a goalie??? What we seen was not "touching" a goalie. For the record, there is a legal way to stop the goalie from what you suggest. It happens a hundred times in a game and it doesn't involve dislogding a player from his helmet/mask. I think you would have seen the play you suggested attempted by now don't you? Uless I have missed something this has never been attempted, for good reason. Wishing a rule to be changed really doesn't do anything for you in this situation. The rule is what it is. Boston fans really need to read the rulebook, because not many of you seem to have a clue.

Since: Jan 25, 2009
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:48 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

Lindy Ruff should be more mad that his team didn't defend Ryan Miller.  My 8 year old knows you need to do more then just push the guy a bit that just took out your goalie.  Send him to the ground and defend your goalie.

Since: Dec 3, 2008
Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:46 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

Since a goalie is not allowed to be touched outside of his crease what is preventing goalies then from just taking the puck all the way down the other end of the ice and trying to score one on one with the other goalie?

Do you guys now understand why that is absurd and ridiculous? 

The golaie is free game if he leaves his crease, end of story.

Since: Jan 11, 2008
Posted on: November 16, 2011 1:45 pm

Protection of goalies hot topic at GM meetings

This is ridiculous! Comparing Goalis to QB's, that like comparing Apples to Oranges!

First off you're right, a QB is protected either AFTER he passes the ball, or if he goes into a SLIDE (slide be the important word) while running the ball, which he is downing himself and ending the play. In all other situations, if a QB has the ball he's fair game and you can take as good a shot at him as any other player on the field.

No one is arguing that a goalie should be fair game when he DOESN'T have the puck! The issue is when he CHOOSES to leave his crease, his protected area, and plays the puck. Essentially what the goalie can puck anywhere from the goal line to his own blue line at will without being subjected to any physical contact. This is an extremely unfair situation!

What needs to be done to protect the goalie, is to remove the "trapazoid". Lets face it, if a goalie wants to play the puck behind his own net, he's trap in a small area (thus the name I guess) and is subject to MORE phyiscal contact then if they had free range below the goal line.

I'm not saying that the "skaters" should be able to take runs at the goalie, the same rules would apply to hitting a goalie, that apply for hitting any other player. The correct call was made against Lucic, a 2 minute minor for charging. If Miller, or any other goalie, can't take the physical aspect of the game, then they should stay in their crease where they're protected or get out of the NHL.

And just for the record, my favorite hockey player is Patrick Roy and my nephew is a goaltender at the peewee level.

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