"Not really," Emery said. "More and more, you hear of players and GMs complaining, they think everything is getting too big. We've heard it for years that they want to cut down."
For the first time since 2006, the NHL made significant equipment changes. There is a 10 percent reduction in the maximum height of goalie pads this year, and that size is dependent upon a goaltender's height.
For the Flyers, that meant an average reduction of 1 inch in size per pad, for both Emery and Steve Mason. For every goaltender, that means an increase in five-hole space available for shooters to target.
"It's probably just a lot of smaller adjustments," Emery explained. "You can move a little quicker, but you've got to fight a little to keep that five-hole tight.
"If I have another inch on my pads when I'm down, I can afford to play a little more loose. Without that inch, you've got to push harder to keep your pads tighter together."
In the grand scheme of puck-stopping, is that a big deal?
"I haven't noticed a huge issue with it," Mason said. "No complaints right now. If you're just losing an inch, it's really not noticeably different."
Mason said he has heard other goaltenders weren't as lucky. Rumor has it that Montreal's Carey Price lost 2 1/2 inches per pad, which would be a total of 5 less inches protected in his five-hole area. That could turn out to be a huge difference - especially if he isn't able to adjust quickly to start the season.
According to a report from CBC, the NHL wanted an even bigger reduction in pads, but this was as far as the NHLPA was willing to go for 2013-14.
Mason's only complaint was that he wasn't able to work with his newly redesigned pads for long prior to the start of the season. Each pad must be sent to the NHL league office and approved by senior manager of hockey operations/goaltender equipment Kay Whitmore before it can be delivered to the player.
Whitmore told CBC that approximately 25 percent of the more than 100 packages he reviewed in late August needed to be rejected.
"They waited until the last minute in the summer," Mason said. "That's because they waited so long in the summer to make a decision on the rules."
Mason said he uses six or seven sets of pads in a given season, since pads break down and lose their firmness. Mason lifted up the bottom of his right pad to show the signature of Whitmore in a silver marker, designated that Whitmore had personally approved Mason's use of the pad.
Whitmore will be traveling more often to each arena this season for random inspections. He will notify equipment managers with 10 minutes remaining in the game and then sequester goaltenders as they're exiting the ice surface to inspect the pads.
"He comes around every so often," Emery said of his experience. "He pops in. Mostly, it will be when other teams call in [to complain]. He also watches tape and talks to the trainers to check on stuff."
The penalties for illegal equipment are stiff: a two-game suspension for the offending goaltender, plus a $25,000 fine for the team and a $1,000 fine for the team's equipment manager.
Neither Mason nor Emery remembers hearing of a goaltender being penalized for illegal equipment recently, except for Anaheim's Viktor Fasth using a questionable chest protector. There are also regulations for under-the-jersey equipment, blocker size and catching-glove circumference.
"I don't think guys really cheat that much," Emery said. "Some guys push the envelope, or it appears, but everyone's body is different and everyone wears it differently. You would have to either sneak gear [from the manufacturer] or fake signatures."
Claude Giroux seemed to hedge his bet yesterday when asked if he will play tonight against the Devils. Giroux said he doesn't "want to take a risk" and wants to make sure his surgically repaired hand is 100 percent ready for Oct. 2 . . . According to a report from the New York Post, the NHLPA informed players not to expect any return from last year's escrow withholding of approximately 16 percent of their salary. That is despite the fact that the NHL earned more than 58 percent of its projected revenue for the season even though it only played 58 percent of the schedule thanks to the lockout.
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