Goalkeeper protection quickly became a hot-button issue when Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller was injured on a hit by Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic on Saturday night.
Miller had gone to chase the puck by the faceoff circle when Lucic steamrolled him, knocking the Vezina Trophy winner's mask off and concussing him in the process. Lucic spent two minutes in the box for charging.
A discussion among the league's 30 general managers on Tuesday produced a strong consensus that goalies need to be better protected, even when they stray from their own goal to play the puck. And after learning that about two-thirds of GMs would have preferred to see a suspension in the Lucic-Miller case, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan acknowledged that his mandate had been altered.
"I think there's certainly a very heightened sensitivity to the goalies and the future of all the goalies in this league," he said following Tuesday's meeting. "Certainly they're not fair game. I think that players have to understand that. The general managers expressed to me the importance of all the players on the ice but also the extreme importance of the goaltender in that position."
So here was Dave's question to you - "Do goalies need greater protection, and if so, how should the NHL try to provide it?
Here are some of the best responses:
"A goalie who goes halfway to the blue line is acting as a sixth skater, so he should be fair game like the other five." - Ken
"It's simple - don't allow goalies to come out of the crease to play the puck." - Derek
"Goalie protection isn't the issue. 'Boston gets away with everything' is the issue." - Chris
"Ya, more protection. Let's give them helmets and masks and a ton of padding and their own little safe area." - Patty on Twitter
"This is like asking how to prevent robberies after the police bought the story that the thief didn't mean to do it." - Brad
"The Buffalo Sabres wanted the NHL to punish Milan Lucic. They should have done that themselves." - John
Dave's reply to all:
The existing rule is fine, but it must be enforced. And in the Miller-Lucic case, it wasn't.
A charging infraction of that sort must bring more than a two-minute penalty and should bring a suspension. The only way to exonerate Lucic is to believe that he didn't deserve a penalty at all. Nobody at the NHL said that, but in the end, it was easier for Lucic to avoid a suspension than to avoid Miller because he tried to avoid a suspension.