By now everyone knows scoring in the NHL is way down from the free-flowing, high-scoring, score-from-just-inside-the-blueline-on-a-snap-shot glory days of the 1980s. Over the past five seasons the NHL has averaged 5.48 goals per game, and so far in 2015 it’s down to 5.38. That’s a far cry from the 8.02 average in the 1981-82 season and more closely resembles
averages from the 1950s. One solution that has been discussed for several years is increasing the size of the net. As goalies, just like position players, have become bigger over the years the nets have remained the same size.
One high-profile proponent of making the nets bigger is Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. Babcock has spoken openly
for several years about making nets bigger and goalie equipment smaller, and he was at it again on Wednesday.
“It’s impossible to score,” Babcock said during a press conference. “All you gotta do is a math equation. You go to 1980 when the puck went in the net. You got the average size of the goalies in the NHL and the average size of the net. You keep growing the net bigger, that would make the game the same … The net’s too small for the size of the goalies. Period.
“The goalies are too good for the size of the net.” What was interesting about Babcock’s comments is that they were completely unprompted. He was asked a question about the new coach’s challenge and used it as a springboard to talk about goal scoring being down, and launched into the nets discussion. Going to bigger nets doesn’t appear to be on the NHL’s immediate agenda, but it’s an issue that isn’t going to go away. The NHL has experimented with bigger nets in the past – everything from
absurdly shaped, noticeably bigger prototypes, to more subtle changes.