This is the first part in a summer series looking at sane ways to increase NHL scoring, without doing something sacrilegious like increase net size, taking away goalie sticks or something equally absurd. If you are looking for other posts in this series click on the category marker next to the date at the top of the post.
When the trapezoid was put into the NHL, the idea was to limit the amount of puck handling goalies could do. The hope was that this would stimulate offense or more accurately stifle smothering defenses. It was specifically made to keep ultra mobile goalies who handle the puck well from getting pucks that were dumped in, and feeding the puck back out to the neutral zone to his teammates before the opposing team could generate offensive pressure. There are two reasons this is a horrible idea.
Reason number one:
One of the most important things adding the trapezoid has done is reduce counter punch offense. Teams with mobile, puck handling goalies can no longer get the puck out as fast as often. It also means that forwards attacking the zone to retrieve lost pucks no longer get caught with four or five players behind them. So while the trapezoid allows a higher number of entries into the zone because it shackles the goaltender to the net, it does in fact slow the game down. Any goaltender who can skate well can reach the puck in a corner faster than even speedsters like Hagein or Seguin can get there. There is no reason to create dead playing time for a reason that is invalid.
Reason number two:
What is often ignored in the arguments over the trapezoid and or where and at what point goalies become fair game for hits is their competence. Some goalies are good at handling the puck, some are not. And even the best goalies such as Martin Brodeur or Mike Smith make mistakes. Further more, even the best skating goalies are wearing four or five times as much protection as the average skater. This makes them not just slower, but less agile. By keeping the goalies in the crease, the real sin is the reduction of the chaos factor. Goalie sticks are less than ideal for passing, and well, goalie skates are optimized for lateral control, not straight line speed. By eliminating the opportunity for goalies to play the puck, you eliminating not just the potential for them to squash an opponents rush, but for them to screw up by the numbers and allow a goal against. As we saw before the trapezoid was put in place, goalies that are bad at skating, or bad at skating will come out to play the puck. That is an opportunity for offense.
If the league wants to create more scoring it has to remember the law of unintended consequences.