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July 18, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Marc-Andre Fleury, LCS Hockey hero and the idol of millions from eight to 80, will no longer be wearing his trademark yellow pads.
Aw, that hurts.
It's no secret that Fleury is LCS Hockey's favorite goaltender. When we brought LCS back to life in February 2006, Fleury was featured in the site's original logo, and he routinely tops our Cool List as the coolest player in the NHL. So hearing Fleury is losing his bright yellow pads is a real kick to the Charlie Browns.
Fleury's pads were the best fashion statement since Mr. Furley's leisure suits. But now, much like the great Don Knotts, they too are solid gone. Instead of his signature sartorial yellow, Fleury will sport plain white RBK pads. Plain white? It smacks of communism.
Shortly after Fleury went down with his high ankle sprain, some eye doctor from Ottawa sent him a letter in which he sang the praises of white pads, saying they create the illusion of being bigger in net. The good doctor claims the pure pads trick shooters into thinking there's no net available. In contrast, Fleury's bright yellow pads supposedly appear smaller in goal, and their distinctive coloring makes it easier for shooters to spot twine. No, I'm serious. And this man apparently has a license to practice medicine. An illusion of bigger pads? Who is this guy? Doug Henning?
This whole thing is bunk. Yeah, that's right. I said it. Bunk! The doctor's a quack. His crackpot theory is preposterous. First of all, illusions don't stop pucks. It doesn't matter how big pads "look" in net, they're still just 11 inches wide.
But it's clear the doctor knows very little about scoring goals. Elite snipers couldn't even tell you what a goalie's pads look like. Unless you're on a clean breakaway, there just isn't time to look at the net. True goal-scorers sense where the goalie is and shoot accordingly. You know what they call guys who look at the net? Minor-leaguers.
The NHL is too fast. There simply isn't time to study the cage. The top goal-scorers aren't necessarily the guys who shoot the hardest or have the most accuracy. It's all about the shot release. The best scorers are the ones who get rid of the puck the quickest.
The color of a goaltender's equipment is completely meaningless. The most important factor in a goaltender's performance is the team in front of him. Next is his positioning and experience. Third is his overall talent. The color of his pads ranks much lower on the list, somewhere between his astrological sign and his ability to sing the theme song to "Mr. Belvedere."
But what do I know? I mean, just look at the best goalies in the league. Roberto Luongo has white pads. Oh wait, no he doesn't He wears dark blue and green. Well, I'm sure Henrik Lundqvist has white pads, right? Not so much. He goes with the blue and red. Tim Thomas, Pascal Leclaire, and Cristobal Huet all have save percentages over .921, and none of them wear white. Martin Brodeur's pads are mostly red and black. And Marty Turco isn't scared to strap on gold, assuming the mantle of best-dressed goalie in wake of Fleury's terrible decision.
Rick DiPietro makes for an interesting case study. He started the year with orange and blue pads, going 16-13-3 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. On January 5, he officially switched to all white Itechs. Opposing shooters haven't been fooled by the illusion. Since making the change, DiPietro is 3-8-3 with a 3.04 goals-against and a .905 save percentage.
Fleury's pads were iconic. They were so much more than just swank style. They embodied a rebellious spirit. He was an individual. He was sticking it to The Man. Now he's another cog in the machine.
Fleury without his yellow pads is like Superman without his cape. Gilligan without his hat. Rosie O'Donnell without her mustache. Fleury's pads were his signature. They were his identity. Without them, he's just another 23-year-old netminder with freakish speed and agility who can't control rebounds or play the puck. And where's the fun in that?
I can't remember the last time I was this disappointed. And keep in mind, my life's been full of crushing disappointments and hopeless endeavors. I just can't believe it. Fleury without yellow pads? Existence is cruel.
Thankfully, gin bottles are still green. Start pouring.