Antti Niemi may have one sore hand after stopping a shot without his glove in preseason action between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After losing his glove in a collision with one of his teammates, Niemi tried to get the attention of the official. The official decided to let play continue, resulting in Niemi making a save with his bare hand.

Why wasn’t play stopped? Niemi clearly got the attention of the official, but apparently the NHL’s refs won’t be automatically stopping play if a goalie loses their blocker or glove. The automatic whistle will still be in place if a goalie’s helmet comes off during play.

Irony, thy name is the NHL. While the league is busy trying to whistle every slash and faceoff violation imaginable, with the former falling under the label of improved player safety, they’re quietly changing how they respond to a goalie who has lost a piece of equipment.

Previously, play would be stopped if a goalie lost his glove because it could result in a serious injury. Niemi didn’t notice he even made the save because it was all instincts, but a harder shot could have shattered or broken the bones in his hand.

Why would the NHL make such a decision? The only safe guess is that they feel goalies may occasionally “lose” a piece of equipment in the hopes of stopping an offensive chance from the opposing team. By grabbing a whistle, a goalie could theoretically stall and delay things long enough to disrupt a scoring chance and give his team a needed break.

All of that sounds good in theory, but how practical and how realistic are those scenarios? Do we really feel NHL goalies are conning the system so often that player safety needs to be jeopardized when a glove comes off accidentally?

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.