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Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Sumo Hockey Goalie?

I saw my first hockey game in person at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on November 13, 1971, sitting in the last row Grey seats watching the Toronto Maple Leafs tie the Vancouver Canucks 2-2… I think. I do remember that you were allowed to smoke then (not me, I was a child… however…) and that the smoke from the entire building rose up and coalesced in my lungs. I also recall feeling like a man the first time I urinated in the trough… a large marble trough for multiple people to pee into at the same time.

I've been a hockey fan for a long time and although I had tried a few times as a youth to skate - I never learned. Then, two years ago, I bought a pair of skates to go skating with my son who had already learned at the age of 4... but something happened to me... it was like all of those years of watching people skate in hockey games... my body learned how to skate - and skate well through osmosis... I was flying through the air and skating circles around my wife and son... I could skate. And I learned how from paying close attention to hockey games on TV. All true.

Anyhow, I have long wondered why ice hockey teams have never used a really, large man to block the net as a goaltender to keep the puck out.

I mean… I figured… with all the equipment on… nothing would go in, right?

For reference, I had looked at professional lacrosse goalies who have goalies wearing over-sized equipment to block more of the net… guys with super-sized shoulder pads that then require someone to wear team jerseys that are 60-70 inches (152.4-177.8 centimeters) at the chest .

They look huge! But… the lacrosse goalies still let goals in. So... size was a factor in keeping the ball out, but the lacrosse goalies weren't big enough. Lacrosse is awesome, by the way!

Hell… I am not a small guy… though I used to be one. I was under 100 pounds (45.36 kilograms) going into high school and was 5'-0" (1.52 meters) tall.. but with big floppy feet on that frame, I knew I would get bigger… and so now… after normal teenaged growth compacted into a few months, I got taller… and then a few years of working out heavily at the gym produced decent enough results and I turned a compact 36-inch (91.44 centimeters) chest into a 48-inch (121.92 centimeters) chest.

Wearing a hockey jersey… I wear an XXL (extra-extra large) and I fill it out—I look like I'm wearing shoulder pads, but I'm not.… in fact… here's the thing… I'm bigger than a lot of hockey goalies - from the past.

I recall a goalie named Turk Broda (he was chubby-looking, and probably liked turkey)… but a news article detailed how huge he was and mentioned his 44-inch chest. Geez. And yet… here's a guy who had a 2.53 career goals against average… better than most goalies playing nowadays with bigger and better equipment.

Scorers et al have also upped their skill levels— they must have—because there is certainly less of the net open when a fully-equipped goalie is in place…

But… what if you used a really, really fat guy… like a sumo wrestler… and placed him in net? Would he stop more goals?

(Okay… I know sumo wrestlers have a lot of muscle under the belt… and the fat is just extra weight to make themselves more difficult to lift up or be pushed by the opponent… there is no need for you ovum (I wrote o-zumo (the honorific way of writing sumo—damn you Auto-Correct on Text Edit!) to stampede me with letters of protest.)

So... I found a scientific video: Sports Science on YOU TUBE that answers my sports question… will a large sumo wrestler dressed in hockey goalie gear be able to stop pucks better than a smaller and more agile regular hockey goaltender?

The results surprised me. Of course, being a goalie, myself, as a tiny kid, I can say that on the goalie used, he had the goalie pads on the wrong legs… but truthfully, it didn't make a difference to the results.

And yeah… this really has little to do with Japan, but it was while in Japan while watching a professional Japanese hockey league game back in 1991, that I first pondered the possible plus side of a sumo goaltender.

Andrew Joseph

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