It is probably minuscule, but when you keep changing the rink around (they did so in the lockout i believe, too) everything compounds. It might not be THAT big of a deal, but all i'm saying is i would prefer that this type of stuff to stay the same. It's easier and makes more sense to shrink the pads of the goalies which are clearly way too large for what they need to be.
The width of a NHL rink is 85', or 1020". Increase the net by a total of 6" horizontally, and that represents 0.588% increase in the size of the net against the rink. The alterations they've made to the rink in recent memory were moving the net closer to the boards, and then back to further away from the boards...they've also moved the blue lines towards the middle of the rink a bit, giving more size to the offensive zone.
The goal itself is 6'x4', for a grand total of 24 sq ft, or 288 sq inches. A 6"x3" increase of the net yields an increase of 18", or an increase of 6.25% in the size of the net.
They could do this tomorrow and not tell anyone watching the game, and no one would know.
Dealing with pad size is something they should do, but it's FAR more complicated than altering the size of the net. How far can you shrink the pads without increasing the injuries to goalies? How do you deal with goalies of varying sizes? Does a 5'10" goalie get to wear the same pad size as a 6'3" goalie? The list of issues when you start altering pad size are massive...changing the net size is an incredibly simple move.
Look, hockey has a ton of issues that they should give greater consideration to in the coming years. My primary concern is that they actually get on the Refs and keep the obstruction out of the neutral zone, which they've -- once again -- grown lax in keeping out of the game. However, the sport and fans of the sport need learn to give some changes greater thought and not act like suggesting the net increase is some form of horrible heresy. Other sports have instituted rule changes that have had far more profound effect on the way the sport is played than anything I've seen discussed in hockey.
Lowering the mound in baseball and instituting the DH rule are and remain dramatic alterations to the sport. The game is played completely differently from a strategic perspective in the AL with the DH as opposed to the NL. The mound being lowered dramatically affects pitching.
The NBA brought in the 3-point line...the game no longer even remotely resembles the way it was played prior to that change.
Not all changes are good, but the lack of open-mindedness within the NHL both within the offices and amongst the fans is the greatest hindrance to the sport advancing. The league needs to become more progressive and self-reflective...and it's difficult to do when fans lose their **** over something as mundane as the fabric of jerseys, let alone rule alterations and things like the dimensions within the game.