Reaction to this weekend’s collision between Boston’s Milan Lucic and Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller that resulted in Miller being concussed, has once again stirred up the goalie safety debate.
For those who haven’t seen the play, Miller roams well beyond his net to play the puck from a charging Lucic and then gets flattened in a spectacular way. Lucic insists the hit was unintentional. Sure it wasn’t. He was so focused on the play and going so fast he couldn’t veer left or right to avoid a collision? What if Lucic actually did get the puck – wouldn’t he have to go around Miller to score instead of through him? Sorry. The argument doesn’t hold water. Miller and the Sabres are justifiable in their outrage by the play which didn’t result in a suspension for Lucic. Isn’t this the kind of play that the NHL is trying to get out of the game?
It will be interesting to see if anything will happen regarding rules around protecting goaltenders at this week’s GM meetings.
To most coaches, your #1 netminder carries the importance of your starting quarterback. They should be protected, even outside the crease. Teams are heavily invested in goaltenders and franchises often live and die on their success. What are the prospects for the Leafs if James Reimer is out long term after being hit by the Canadiens’ Brian Gionta? Are the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup champions if Tim Thomas was knocked out? Exactly.
In certain media circles, goalies have been called cry-babies and complainers. After all, they have more protective equipment than anyone, right? And once they wander outside their little blue patch of ice, they’re fair game, so get over it. Problem is, when they are hit, it’s usually at very high speeds by forwards in full gallop and even with all the equipment, they’re still vulnerable. What’s the impact of a 250-pound player smashing into you at full speed? I think we all can draw our own conclusions from this weekend.