Roberto Luongo got his 300th career win on Saturday against the L.A. Kings. But did he do it by breaking the rules?
This was a hot topic of debate at the Staples Center when, to some, it appeared the Vancouver goalie was possibly wearing leg pads wider than the rules allow.
NHL rule 11.2 states: "Leg Guards – The leg guards worn by goalkeepers shall not exceed eleven inches (11'') in extreme width when on the leg of the player..."
That means every goalie in the league is required to wear pads that aren't wider than 11 inches - at any part of the pad (the knee, the shin, the toe...). Now, of course, the notion that a goalie would wear illegal equipment to gain a competitive edge wouldn't be something new (cough cough...), but cheating has become rare in an era of intense media scrutiny, obsessed goalie bloggers and dedicated rule-enforcing league officials.
That being said, to the naked eye Luongo's pads simply do look wider than the standard 11-inch leg pad. I have concluded that - at least when it comes to the face of his pads - it is a case of looks being deceiving. However (and I do emphasize however), I am convinced that a particularly puffy quirk in the design of his inner leg protection may place his pads into illegal territory.
Back to the face of the pads themselves: After closely analyzing hundreds of recent action shots I am of the opinion that the face of Luongo's pads are no wider than 11 inches anywhere along the length of them. Do they look wider because they are all-white? Yes. (To understand how color can distort size, just ask your wife or girlfriend about why they wear slimming black pants rather than white ones.) But they are legal.
Here is the "but" of my breakdown. But it seems that the padding along Luongo's inner leg (aka "calf wing protector") sometimes flaps out and, though momentary, it appears that Luongo's total pad width exceeds 11 inches at these moments. And, yes, this would make his pads illegal, according to my reading of the official NHL rules, which states, "Calf-wing protectors must contour and cannot be visible to the shooter when strapped to the goalkeeper’s leg."
The best recent visible evidence I could find supporting my illegal width theory is during Luongo's March 3 game against the Predators and which I have posted at the top of this story (and Luongo apparently wore the same pads Saturday against the Kings). You can see a cleaner shot here.
This wouldn't be the first time Luongo has been called out for illegal pads. Puff Daddy was reportedly ordered by the league to take out similar knee flaps back in the 2007 playoffs after the Dallas Stars complained.
Finally, a disclaimer. Although I am convinced that Luongo's pads do "puff" their way into being illegally wide, the only way to find out for sure if Luongo's new nickname should be "Puff Daddy" is for league officials to measure them. Because rules be the rules. Just ask every player who has been fined or suspended this year for knocking another player in the head.
Now, go ahead and enjoy Luongo's win in the video below, then please tell me in the comments section if you agree with me and what, if anything, you think the NHL should do about it.