Pipe Bending in Pro Sports

The sport of hockey has seen a rise in popularity over the last few years nationally, which can be attributed to the increased media presence of the NHL and hockey at the Olympics.  At a very simplistic level of understanding, the goal of the game is for a player to hit the puck into a net which is guarded by another player.  The current NHL speed record for a hockey puck is over 108 miles per hour set by Zdeno Chara in a 2012 All Star Game skills competition.  While a goalie wears extra padding to protect from painful shots at those speeds, the net itself needs to have a strong steel frame to stand up to that type of hit.  As well, with players rushing quickly towards the net having sharp, welded corners on the frame would potentially increase injury concerns if a player fell onto them.  Which may be a reason why the NHL uses curved and rolled pipe in the formation of its nets.  In fact, the dimensions of the net framework are strictly controlled by the NHL, and were updated just a few years ago modifying the existing curvature.

The current net design features a front frame made using 2” sch40 pipe with 90 degree pipe bends welded in the corners. The changes in the overall shape of the hockey goal frame decreased the radius of the corner bends, which gives the net a more squared off shape than in previous years.  It is not exactly clear why the NHL made this change.  It may have been merely for aesthetic purposes.  However, some hockey players feel it will help increase scoring by giving a slight increase in the open space target of the corners.  Skilled hockey players will target these spots like marksmen, and the slight changes may increase the odds of a favorable puck bounce off the pipes.



As well, the curved profile of the rear frame of the net has changed.  This has allowed for more room in the area behind the net, dubbed “Gretzky’s Office”, in homage to one of the greatest players of the sport.  This is an area known for frequent activity by players attempting to use the goalie blind spot to make a scoring play.  The added room and slightly shallower shape to the curved pipe profile could make those wraparound type scoring plays more common.



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