It’s not hard to imagine an owner looking for an unfair advantage to “break” the rules of a sport. Baseball owner Bill Veeck famously batted 3’7? Eddie Gaedel at leadoff in a baseball game despite, or more accurately, because of, his diminutive strike zone. Charlie Finley employed Olympic sprinter Herb Washington as a pinch runner for his Oakland A’s. Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause once shaved a gorilla and put it in a Bill Wennington uniform in order to get more power in the post. For hockey, the question is simple and has been asked thousands of times by hardcore sports fans and casual observers, from sportswriters like ESPN’s Bill Simmons (in an article entitled “33 Ways to Make Sports Better”) to Rob Lowe’s and Bradley Whitford’s characters on The West Wing: Why not go out and find the fattest goalie you can to block the net?
As strange as it may sound to anyone with a sense of decency, there is actually sound reasoning behind it. Because of the geometry of the game, the potential for one mammoth individual to change hockey is staggering. Simply put, there is a goal that’s 6 feet wide and 4 feet high, and a hockey puck that needs to go into it in order to score. Fill that net completely, and no goals can possibly be scored against your team. So why hasn’t it happened yet?