NHL Needs Better Plan for Third Goalie

Incidents happen in sports and rules aren’t always in place as to how a problem can be solved. Rules are usually put in place for extreme cases but not all incidents can be covered.

The Florida Panthers found this out earlier this week when goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both were injured in the same game. This instance was rare in NHL terms but proved it can happen.

The game ended up being delayed for a period of time while the Panthers had to figure out how to finish the game. Officials ruled that Derek McKenzie, who started the game at center and volunteered to go in goal, was not eligible to put on the goalie pads and guard the crease. Luongo, who was in street clothes at the time Montoya got hurt, eventually was cleared by team doctors to return and goaltender coach Rob Tallas was ruled eligible to serve as the backup for the rest of the game.

It was apparent rules had not been put in place for this situation and confusion occurred when the Panthers were unclear how to proceed. Seeing that this incident occurred makes it likely that it can happen again and rules will need to be put in place to avoid this.

Having a third goaltender that never plays on an NHL payroll is not ideal. Teams can only dress two goaltenders per game and having a third goaltender on payroll to sit in the stands is something the NHL teams do not want. Adding a third goaltender would make it harder for the coach to provide equal playing time and goalie prospects within the team’s farm system would have someone else to sit behind on the depth chart. Most teams send their goaltenders to the minors to provide them with playing time to get better and sitting in the stands as a third goalie that won’t play will not be ideal.

A better solution would be to allow each team to designate two people that can be an emergency third goalie if needed. This can be a coach, another player on the bench or someone in the front office (e.g. Martin Brodeur in the St. Louis Blues front office). This would eliminate the problem of having another player on payroll and provide clear direction on how to proceed if it happens again.

Two goalies going down in one game has not happened often but proved this week it can happen. With this in mind, rules need to be established on how to handle the situation.

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~ by jeffrsabo on March 7, 2015.

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