Goalie Equipment: Brodeur's Last Stand?

It's no secret that the 2007-08 NHL season didn't end the way New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur wanted it to. As if seeing his team flushed out of the playoffs in just five games wasn't enough, Brodeur also got to endure a public beatdown at the hands of winger Sean Avery. No, Avery never laid a glove on Brodeur. Instead, he did something far worse: Avery shamed him with his antics, something that Brodeur only compounded as he refused to shake Avery's hand at the end of the series.

It's also no secret that Brodeur is closer to the end of his career than even he wants to admit, but if he has his way in a meeting with some fellow players and general managers in a few weeks, he'll be sure to have a significant influence on the game for many years after he's gone.

What am I talking about? This morning, the NHL and NHLPA announced the formation of the Goalie Equipment Working Group, a body consisting of five players and four general managers. According to a statement from the NHLPA, the group will "examine the configuration and dimensions of goaltender equipment with respect to safety and performance."

"If the working group decides alterations to the rules governing goaltender equipment are warranted, and will not jeopardize the safety of the goalies, these recommendations will be forwarded to the Competition Committee for consideration," the statement said.

In other words, if there's any way this group can figure out a way to shrink the equipment in order to increase goal scoring without jeopardizing the life and health of goaltenders, they'll do it. Then again, taking a look at the members of the group, my guess is we won't be seeing any dramatic changes after that June 11 meeting.

Also serving on the body and representing the NHL are Doug Risebrough of Minnesota, Garth Snow of the New York Islanders, Jim Rutherford of Carolina and Brett Hull of Dallas. The NHLPA reps, along with Brodeur, are Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders, Ryan Miller of Buffalo, Dany Heatley of Ottawa and Mike Cammalleri of Los Angeles.

We already know that goaltenders are a pretty tight group, and I have little doubt that Snow, a GM and former goalie who is extraordinarily close with DiPietro, will fight tooth and nail to protect his team's most valuable -- and some would say only -- asset. And thanks to a Sports Illustrated piece from a few months back, we already know that DiPietro and Brodeur form something of a mutual admiration society.

Combine them with Miller, and that's four solid votes against doing anything that's going to make a goalie's job harder than it already is. And while those four could very well be outvoted if the other five stick together, my guess is the group won't want to forward any recommendations to the Competition Committee if they aren't unanimous.

Not that it isn't hard to argue that something needs to be done. Just take a look at this pic of Bernie Parent, circa mid-1970s compared with Brodeur or the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man look pioneered by Snow. If Bernie could survive with that little protection, I'm guessing shaving a couple of inches off each side of the pads might not exactly be a bad idea.

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