Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The new mandate for smaller chest protectors worn by all NHL goalies has caused safety concerns among some elite players who stand between the pipes.

Frank Curto

The NHL changed the requirements for a new, smaller chest protector for all NHL goalies. Most goalies have had to adjust or change this valuable piece of equipment entirely to meet the new guidelines.

The change was made in an effort to keep all goalies on an equal playing field. The chest protectors are to become smaller and more form fitting which has caused some goalies to voice their shout how safe this is and most of their opinions are not positive.

Florida Panthers James Reimer is not happy with the change of chest protector he is forced to wear now. It took him time to get comfortable with the adjustments he needed to make. This has now caused him a delay in getting his new protector since there is a production delay with demand so high.

He spoke about flinching when shots are fired at him in practice, aware that he never flinched before as an NHL goalie, he didn’t feel as comfortable with the new protector he was using. He feared he would get bruised more often as there appeared to be more unprotected areas.

Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals is concerned with the injuries that might come about as a result of the smaller chest protector he must get used to wearing. Broken bones are on his mind.

”Sooner or later someone’s going to get hurt pretty bad,” Holtby said to SI.Com after feeling the sting of a few shots at a morning skate. ”You can deal with bumps and bruises and stuff. It’s when you hope someone doesn’t get a broken bone or some sort out of it. If they keep making things like that, they’re going to have to start monitoring the stick technology because guys shoot so hard right now we’ll have no choice but to be bigger.”

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was prepared for the process of changing equipment. He went through it when the league changed goalies pad requirements.

When he went through the process of changing his chest protector he spoke with the vice president of hockey operations Kay Whitmore.

“It was tight and hard to move and you got exposed in a couple areas where you had to talk to Kay and make sure it was OK to cover your shoulders,” Lundqvist said to SI.com. ”I just made some adjustments just make sure it was exactly the way I wanted and the league wanted it, so it’s all good now.”

Whitmore at one time or another has spoken with all of the NHL goaltenders regarding the equipment modifications and is in the middle of everyone involved. From the general managers who wanted the equipment change to the NHLPA to the players and manufacturers, it has been a long process to make everyone as happy as possible with all the changes.

The hockey operations vice president appeared in the NHL playing in 155 games in his 15-year career. He is confident that goalies will not get hurt as a result of the equipment changes. He understands that concerns of the goalies and has their safety first and foremost as his main concern too.

As training camp come came to a close most goalies either added more padding or went to a padded shirt to wear under their chest protector as did Vegas Golden Knights Marc Andre-Fleury.

The goalies throughout the league are concerned that the league is sacrificing safety for goals, a scenario the NHLPA is monitoring closely.

Kay Whitmore is convinced that through his constant involvement with the NHL, the NHLPA and the goalies directly, the players will be safe without a nightly concern that the equipment will fail.

Some, as in James Reimer, do not seem as confident.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com