Sportsnet.ca — On Sunday Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo looked down the ice at J.S. Giguere, who was wearing the exact pads the NHL made Luongo chop down just a few weeks earlier.
Kay Whitmore, a member of the NHL goalie police asked Luongo on February 5 to cut off his knee flaps, two pieces of equipment that jet out from his leg pads. Luongo obliged, but shortly after J.S. Giguere was wearing the same flaps Luongo was told to shed. Now the Stars’ Mike Smith has started wearing them and so has Blackhawks goalie Patrick Lalime.
“It wasn’t because they (the flaps) were illegal, it was just because,” said Luongo. “There’s a bunch of other goalies who still have the same thing. But that’s fine. I have more important things to worry about, you know what I mean. I’m the only one that I’ve seen that has had to do this. You should ask Whitmore why.”
Whitmore arrived at the general managers meetings in Naples, Fla., where one of the key issues is reducing the size of goalie equipment. When asked by the Vancouver Province to explain the discrepancies, the former goalie simply stated: “There’s not much to clarify. Anything that extends outside the 11-inch pad width is not allowed. If [flaps] are worn properly they’re fine.”
The pads first made headlines during last year’s playoffs when the Stars pointed out the knee flaps to Whitmore. At the time, the NHL agreed it was much ado about nothing.
“It’s just the way Roberto chooses to wear it,” Whitmore said in December. “If we thought he was getting an unfair advantage having that protective flap sticking out the side then we would definitely do something about it. … It hasn’t been something that’s really worried us.”
Luongo created a buzz at the beginning of the season when he told reporters that he would quit the league if the NHL decided to introduce bigger nets. NHL vice-president Colin Campbell responded to Luongo’s words by saying that if he doesn’t want bigger nets he should help find ways to reduce the size of goalie equipment.
The Canucks take on their Northwest Division rivals from Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Canucks trail the Wild by six points and Minnesota has won three straight against Vancouver after dropping the first two meetings this season by a combined score of 10-4.