Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
All I want for Christmas is Thatcher Demko to bring back his throwback goalie gear
1 month ago
When you think of the most iconic saves of Thatcher Demko’s short career, which one comes to mind first?
For me, it’s this one from two seasons ago. On a then-rare throwback night against the Flames, Demko robbed Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson while wearing exact replicas of Kirk McLean’s Flying Skate equipment from 1994.
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Demko’s different take on the phrase ‘Captain Kirk cosplay’ was the result of some terrific pad wrapping by CCM, and some lenience on a rule set by Canucks’ goalie coach Ian Clark. Ever since Clark returned to Vancouver in 2019 after a decade in Columbus and Sweden, he’s made it mandatory for the franchise’s goalies that they wear white pads.
Clark’s insistence on his pupil’s equipment being predominantly white comes from a long held understanding of the game, and some of the phycology surrounding it. White pads are meant to give goalies a visual advantage over the shooter; the pads blend into the white netting and boards behind them on a quick glance, giving shooters the impression that there’s more room to score than there actually is. This idea was popularized in the 90s by netminders like Patrick Roy, who felt white gear gave him the mental edge over his counterparts who often wore brown or black leather pads.
Over time, more and more goaltenders have opted to limit the amount of colour on their gear, and NHL goalie coaches have taken to insisting their players wear less unique gear to help pad their stats. After all, if not wearing white pads was the only thing keeping you from posting elite starting goalie numbers, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
But just for the holidays, let me play devil’s advocate in this otherwise very inconsequential and silly debate: white pads are really boring.
Demko’s gear from that magical February night stands out because of how unique it was to the rest of the gear he’s worn in his Canuck tenure. And now that the Canucks are wearing the Black Skate nearly once a week, the white pads with red and yellow trim he’s using just don’t stand out as much.
Not only should Demko go back to the McLean pads and matching mask he wore two years ago, but he should also add some blue and green pads to the mix for nights when the Canucks wear the Orca uniforms. The most iconic equipment in franchise history, like Luongo’s blue Johnny Canuck gear from his first three seasons in Vancouver or Felix Potvin’s cat pads from the early 2000s, are memorable cause they add a splash of colour.
And once you’re an established superstar netminder, the difference white padding does is minimal in comparison to what your overall talent provides. Just ask Juuse Saros, who’s been a perennial Vezina candidate for the last three years while wearing bright mustard yellow pads in Nashville.
Of course, unless Ian Clark is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve who insist he change his ways in one, very hyper-specific department, it’s doubtful we’ll see Thatcher Demko in black pads anytime soon. But if the spirit of the season can provide some Christmas magic, I hope those Kirk McLean pads are sitting under the Canuck’s tree.
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