It’s Miller Whine?
I’m of two minds on this one. On one hand, if you go to play the puck, well out of the net, why should you be granted special protection? On the other, you have goaltenders who lack mobility, and thus the ability to defend themselves against hits, combined with the fact that a team only dresses two goaltenders, making any contact injuries a real risk to the quality of the game on a nightly basis.
To me, it is more about the how and where the puck is being played. In the Miller situation, no, he should not be fair game, as the puck is no longer in play, and Lucic could easily have avoided Miller. I do think, if the puck is no longer being played by the goaltender, anywhere on the ice, he is NOT fair game.
But, if the goaltender IS playing the puck (it’s on their stick), anywhere BUT in the blue-ice, he is a modified fair game. Modified meaning you can separate him from the puck, not bowl him over or check him into the boards.
Example #1: In the Miller incident, assuming Miller was in the process of playing the puck (assuming it was still on his stick), then Lucic could have hit him (although, not how he did, which was a charge, already covered in the rules) like any other player, as Miller chose to put himself in that position. The problem is, the puck wasn’t on his stick, and Lucic still hit him. I believe the right call would have been 2 minutes for charging, and 2 minutes for goaltender interference, resulting in a 4 minute power-play.
Example #2 : Goaltender is behind the net, with the puck on his stick. He has chosen to put himself in play, outside of the blue paint, and is thus available to be checked. This is where it gets dicey, and needs a modified checking rule, that obligates the skater to not drive the goaltender into the boards, but rather to bump him off the puck. Not an easy rule to define, and may encourage goaltenders to embellish the hit (which they already do anyhow) in hopes of drawing a penalty.
I suspect that, with the creation of this rule, fewer goaltenders will venture out of the crease, which will increase scoring opportunities, while still providing some protection to goaltenders in recognition of their modified mobility.