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Brendan Shanahan says removing goalie trapezoid wouldn’t make a big difference

Aug 18, 2011, 8:27 PM EDT

Steve Ott, Jose Theodore AP

In the grand scheme of things, I think most people in the hockey world would agree that the post-lockout rule changes have benefited the style of play in significant ways. Sure, there’s still a concern that the neutral zone trap will rear its ugly head more often, but for the most part the sport is playing to its speedy, high-skill strengths.

That doesn’t mean that people are happy with every little tweak, though. The most obvious point of contention is the addition of the shootout,* but many find some of the league’s delay of game penalty procedures irksome as well.

We already discussed the much-reviled automatic delay of game penalty that a player (most times a defenseman) receives for sending the puck over the glass in his own zone, but there’s another unpopular application of the penalty that the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp actually did cover: the goalie trapezoid.

To refresh your memory, a goalie will receive a two-minute delay of game penalty if he handles the puck behind his net outside of a designated trapezoid-shaped area. The rule change seemed like a direct attack on the NHL’s most efficient puck-moving netminders (most notably Martin Brodeur) who developed their passing abilities to the point that they could make the dump-and-chase strategy far less successful.

It seems like a rather arbitrary way to try to open up offense and essentially penalize a rare skill, but those penalties have been rare and the effects have been difficult to measure. Former NHLer and current NHL exec Brendan Shanahan provided his own subjective account of the impact – or lack thereof – that would come from removing the unpopular trapezoid.

“We took out the trapezoid rule and yet the goalies still had no time to come out and play the puck,” Shanahan said Wednesday afternoon. “I think the idea of goaltenders coming out and having all day to set the puck up, tee it up are gone simply because of the lack of the defenseman’s ability to hold up the forecheckers now and clutch and grab through the neutral zone. So even though we said to the goalies go play the puck, they had no time.”

Shanahan was quick to point out that it was “just one test and it doesn’t mean it’s the end of that idea.” He also admitted that there may still be opportunities in the game that goalies could have the time to head into the corners and play the puck in order to start the attack going forward, but he firmly believes their opportunities would be few and far between in today’s game.

Then again, if the impact would be minimal, wouldn’t it be better to simply go the organic route by removing the trapezoid? Personally, I think that would be the best option, but it’s not a make-or-break situation considering the current style of play in the NHL.

* – Hatching plans to rid the world of the shootout seems pointless because it’s not going anywhere. That’s not to say I like the shootout, though. It justifies the worst instinct when it comes to competitiveness: the urge to play it safe. Coaches can ask their teams to sit back and just hope to make it through a five minute overtime period so they can try to win what is essentially a coin flip for an extra point. Shootouts are lame, but again, they’re going to be a part of the game for at least the short-term future so it’s best just to begrudgingly accept them like an irritating relative at Thanksgiving.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 18, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    “Shootouts are lame, but again, they’re going to be a part of the game for at least the short-term future so it’s best just to begrudgingly accept them like an irritating relative at Thanksgiving.”

    Well said. If anything I really hope they reformat the OT and make it more difficult for games to get to a shootout. Having multiple games go to a shootout every night since the lockout has taken any possible excitement out of them. I never go to a game hoping to see a shootout, it’s just so pointless

    As for the trapezoid, it really is pointless and in my opinion slows the game down (in those instances where a team dumps it in to get a change so the puck just sits past the goal line and the goalie has to wait for his defensmen to go pick it up). The new rules have opened the game up like never before for those with speed and skill, they should be able to carry the puck into their opponents end. If they want to dump and chase the goalie should have the option to go out and play it. Like you said, it seems pointless to penalize a goalie’s skill, although it seems if it were completely up to Bettman goalies would be wearing road hockey pads and wouldn’t be allowed to leave the crease all in the name of increased offense. Maybe this trapezoid is as much as anyone with half a mind would let him constrain the goalies

    • hystoracle - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      The only issue is the Goalie has to be fair game if he goes into the corner to play the puck. The opposing team must be allowed to check the goalie if he’s out there playing the puck – otherwise he is a moving pylon. The way some of these elite tenders play the puck it will be dumped right back out – which is why the rule was imposed in the first place to extend zone time in an attempt to increase scoring. I don;t have an issue with te goalie playing the puck where ever he wants in the zone as long as he is fair game. When he’ s in the crease that’s a different story – they have to stop these guys running goaltenders in their crease who are in no position to defend themselves.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 20, 2011 at 12:07 AM

        As a goalie I have to disagree, at least if they’re behind the goal line. I’m all for the goalie being fair game if he leaves the crease and charges out to the side glass or towards the blue line to play a puck.

        The main problem with that is no matter where the goalie is on the ice he isn’t supposed to be touched as per the unwritten rules. If Reimer wants to go out to the neutral zone to play the puck and you touch him you can expect Colton Orr to pound you. That’s just the way the game is

  2. donttouchthedirtypenny - Aug 19, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    I hate the shootout almost as much as I hate 4 on 4 OT. Is there any other sport that changes their rules so dramatically, to the point where they take a player out of the game, to break a tie? These rules were supposed to stop teams from playing conservative in OT and settling for the tie. Now teams play for the SO. Same result, except now you have a slew of 3 point games. Terrible. What’s wrong with a tie anyway?

  3. bcjim - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Who died and made Brendan Shannahan expert on everything? Enough about almighty Brendan already.

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