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DUCK REPORT

Giguere's Pads Are at Issue Again

November 24, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The controversy that won't go away: Jean-Sebastien Giguere's pads.

The finger-pointing at the Mighty Duck goaltender that began during the playoffs last spring still sporadically flares up, with yet another seemingly unsubstantiated charge arising again. Two teams have complained to the NHL about Giguere's goalie pads not being legal, a hockey source said.

League officials monitor every game to check pads, comparing game video to digital photos taken of every NHL goalie during training camp. A goaltender faces a $25,000 fine and a one-game suspension for using illegal pads.

Giguere has not been red flagged for any violations by league officials.

"The only thing the league did was ask our equipment manager to remove a quarter inch from [Giguere's] shoulder pads when they checked them during training camp," Duck General Manager Bryan Murray said. "They did the same thing with a number of goalies.

"I met with [NHL vice president of hockey operations] Mike Murphy a week or so ago and he said there were a few goalies who had loose pads that they are correcting and that has been the only thing since the season began. Giguere was not one of them. With the fine and suspension, nobody, unless he wasn't a very clever guy, is going to use illegal equipment."

This has been a recurring theme, which started with what was considered gamesmanship by opponents trying to unnerve Giguere during the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The complaints this time, the source said, are about a portion of the leg pads that cover the gap -- the five-hole -- when Giguere drops down to block a shot. Murray said that he has seen photos of Giguere, which league officials use to monitor goalies, and no piece of equipment blocks the five-hole.

Of course, the lack of smoke hasn't stopped some from hollering "fire," even if, as Murray said, NHL rules do not allow goalies to be singled out in a complaint.

"You can submit a general complaint to the hockey department and they will monitor it," said Murray, who has an opinion about those who do not follow channels.

"We are allowed to complain [publicly] about obstruction, but, if I did that all the time, that would just make me sound like a crier," Murray said.

Of course, it may be more than a coincidence that this grumbling resurfaced as Giguere's play has improved. After a slow start this season, he has a 2.09 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in his last seven starts.

Giguere, who was unavailable for comment, has repeatedly tried to put the issue to rest and seems to have facts on his side. While he was asked during training camp to lower the shoulder pads and remove a piece from his leg pads that protects the knee, his pads came in under the NHL's new height and width regulations.

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