Don't Go Past That Line: Why The Trapezoid Must Go!

John SzurlejAnalyst IJanuary 3, 2010

26 Apr 1998:  Goaltender Martin Broduer of the New Jersey Devils in action during a playoff game against the Ottawa Senators at the Corel Center in Ottawa, Canada.  The Senators won the game 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Erza O. Shaw  /Allsport
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Imagine you have a job you do extremely well, so well that it seems that, at times, it's a bit unfair to the rest of your co-workers.

There's no one to blame, it's just what you do, yet the fact is people cry enough and  your supervisor makes some changes to "level the playing field".

Enter the Trapezoid era in the NHL.

If anything, this new-age neutral zone has become a topic of great debate in relation to the recent injuries that have mounted over the sacrilegious area goaltenders are not permitted to enter.

Part of the game includes the net-minder's ability to play not just in his crease, but behind his goal and handle the puck when needed.

When conceived, the new rule was supposed to raise scoring chances and help take a disadvantage away from other teams whose goaltenders had difficulty in this area.  In essence the way of taking a third defenseman away and evening the ice.

For example, the New Jersey Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur is arguably the best puck handler in the NHL, and for that this rule has taken away the ability for him to utilize his talents and shortened his game.

A major reason for the Devils' success, and that of Brodeur's, was his amazing ability to field pucks and send them up ice for an offensive attack. 

In the case of New Jersey, since this rule has been in place, a major part of the team's approach to the game is affected.

It's not just New Jersey and Martin Brodeur, but any net-minder who possesses the ability to impact a game by doing something other than blocking slapshots.

Ultimately, the trapezoid effect has limited and unfairly taken away their right to exercise their talents and play the game to the best professional level they can, this is the NHL, are we not supposed to showcase the best talent in the world?

The effect of this rule, has also been a major contributor that has aided in increasing serious injuries to players throughout the NHL.

Head injuries, upper-body and lower body injuries that could have happened anywhere, are happening more frequently behind the net due to the limited role the goaltender can play, all in the name of offense.

Goaltenders are now more stationery than ever, and in turn also field the increase in injuries or at least an increased chance of sustaining one.

The NHL rule committee needs to take a strong look at the correlation between the two and make the right decision by removing this handcuffing policy and let the athletes play using all of their talents.

Scoring will naturally rise, especially with the caliber of talent that is entering the NHL with such names as Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin leading the way.

The elimination of the red line and the extermination of the "neutral zone trap" were the first steps, and a direct result of that was an increase in scoring. 

The NHL needs to stop tinkering with the game and let the players and coaches push the envelope to improve and mature the game, not create it by imposing regulations which subtract aspects of it without intention.

The NHL will never rival the NFL, or Major League Baseball, and in the sports world sometimes the drive for capitalization and revenue forces the hands to create such rules to allow a more attractive product.

There is a time, however, where the interest for players' safety and respect of their talents must be the rational approach, and if the NHL wants to acknowledge this, they must start by eliminating the trapezoid.


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