BOSTON — If the NHL wants to increase goal-scoring, that’s fine with Claude Julien. Just don’t mess with the size of the net to do it.
The Bruins coach spoke at length Thursday about why switching to a larger goal — one solution to the league’s scoring drought proposed this week at the NHL’s General Managers Meeting — would be bad for the game.
“I don’t like the size of the net changing at all,” Julien said. “I think there’s other ways to make those changes.”
Which other ways? Well, there’s mandating that goalies wear smaller pads, which the league already did once before the 2013-14 season. Another, proposed by Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, would be to shrink the size of the crease, forcing goalies to play closer to the goal line.
“Maybe goaltenders won’t like that, but when they’re in a little deeper, it gives you a little bit more net,” Julien explained. “If they prefer keeping the size of the equipment, then maybe you have to keep (the goalies) in a little lower, and if they decide to minimize the equipment, maybe you keep the creases the same. But no matter what they decide, the only thing I would say is I’m not a big fan of making nets bigger.”
Enlarging the net, in Julien’s eyes, would be yet another example of the NHL catering to skilled goal-scorers to the detriment of netminders.
“I just keep going back to the same thing: Why are we always looking to punish the goaltenders?” he said. “If you make bigger nets, the goaltender has to change the way he plays. He’s grown up playing the same way and all of the sudden, now he’s in the NHL, now he’s got to change something. … We’re trying to punish the goalies all the time.”
To Julien, it’s simple: If you’re a real hockey fan, you don’t need a seven-goal game to be entertained.
“I think people that know the game have always enjoyed a game that has lots of scoring chances, but the goaltenders have been extremely good,” he said. “Good pace of the game. Why do people enjoy soccer so much in Europe that you can’t even get a ticket, yet there are only 2-1 games? You have to appreciate the whole game. Maybe we need to go there for a while and embrace it.”
Not all coaches share Julien’s distaste for larger nets, however. Colorado Avalanche boss Patrick Roy, a Hall of Fame goaltender before he joined the coaching ranks, had a decidedly different take on the issue.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Roy said, via ESPN.com. “I think it will help the scoring. I would think about getting the goal posts a little bit smaller, (which) will make a huge difference, and if every time it hit the post or crossbar it goes in, it’s already a lot of goals.”
Current Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said he “wouldn’t mind” a switch in goal size (“That just means that letting in four or five goals is OK”), but he would not be fond of playing with smaller pads.
“I really don’t know if they can make the gear a lot smaller anymore,” Rask said. “If you start taking pads out, I wouldn’t be a fan of that. But then, I guess you have to talk about making the nets bigger. I’m sure they’re going to come to a conclusion there at some point, but I hope they talk to some goalies if they start cutting the pads down, because then the risk of injury might increase.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
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