The Devil’s Trapezoid
The Devil’s Triangle is a location in Bermuda that ships avoid because of unexplained disappearances. The Devil’s Trapezoid is located behind the Goalie on NHL/AHL rinks. It’s a restricted area behind the goal line that limits where the goaltender can play the puck because of unexplained stupidity by the NHL Board of Governors.
Don’t get me wrong. Rules are fine-but rules also have to follow common sense or they’re not rules at all but unnecessary constraints. All other rules in hockey make sense-well, more or less. Offsides rules prevent cherry picking: simply waiting next to the other net for the puck to come your way so that you can get an unencumbered crack at the goalie. Icing prevents teams from avoiding the play by dumping pucks out of their own zones. These rules all make sense. Now we turn to this ridiculous trapezoid behind the net.
It is true that goalies already can’t touch the puck past center ice. I’m not sure why a goalie would want to, but this rule exists, and I can accept it because it rarely comes into play. However, forcing a goalie to not play the puck outside the Devil’s Trapezoid happens all the time and it does nothing for the flow of the game other than to delay the game in some instances, and irritate the goalies in all instances.
Looking back, this change was one of many made by the “New NHL” after the lockout. It was supposed to help the game. How does one determine whether a certain change helps or hinders? By metrics. Changes meant to speed up the game at faceoffs have sped up the game. It’s measurable. How can one measure the impact of having goaltender forbidden zones? You can’t. Problem number one.
Problem Number Two: Goalies have to play tic tac toe to themselves. Everyone has seen occasions where goalies pass the puck to themselves, thus avoiding touching the puck in the forbidden zones. It defies common sense.
Problem Three: With the desperation of a person trying to catch an open face peanut butter sandwich before it hits the carpeting, goalies have to race out and attempt to get the puck prior to crossing the goal line in the corners. If he grabs it, he still has to wait in some cases for his teammate to come by and pick up the puck, or he plays tic tac toe (see Problem #2). However, if the goalie is unsuccessful he must gaze longingly at the puck on the other side of the line with the look that a dog has after seeing said peanut butter sandwich hit the shag. He can’t touch it, even though he could, because he’ll get slapped. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this speeds up the game.
As a goalie myself, I’m thankful I haven’t had to deal with this rule (which is thankfully non-existent in certain amateur and international levels.) I can only hope that the NHL will wise up to the absurdity of this rule and change it so that future generations’ only exposure to it will be the memories of the times that goalies had to live in fear of the Devil’s Trapezoid.