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Flyers owner: NHL equipment too hard

Dec 13, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Shoulder pads

Ed Snider has watched some tough teams in his days as owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, but yesterday in Chicago at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, he said the NHL is more dangerous than it’s ever been.

“I think a lot of it is due to the equipment today,” said Snider, as per’s Tim Panaccio. “In the old days, you had soft shoulder pads and didn’t have a whole lot of equipment or helmets. I think players respected each other more. They grow up now in junior with these masks and so forth and hit up high. It’s a different game. Obviously, it’s a very serious problem.”

John Davidson, the St. Louis Blues’ president of hockey operations, said almost the exact same thing: “The equipment is so hard and the players don’t respect each other as much as before.”

Given the influence Snider has on league matters, it’ll be interesting to see if equipment is addressed in the near future. The fact two of his best players, Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger, are currently out with concussions (though neither are equipment related) might serve to speed up the process.

Don Cherry has been talking about the equipment issue for ages (video). And while the NHL bans elbow pads “which do not have a soft protective outer covering of sponge rubber,” perhaps something more needs to be done.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Of course it is, it has been for some time, and Don Cherry has been championing this cause for years like you said. Why Bettman would rather meddle with the rules and supplementary discipline rather than addressing this issue is beyond me. Just goes to show how clueless he really is

    • stakex - Dec 13, 2011 at 5:40 PM

      Well said. No rule change, or threat of suspension is going to stop the amount of concussions we are seeing in the NHL right now. Softer equipment might not prevent every concussion, but it will sure as hell help with some of them. No reason for the NHL to drag their feet any longer.

  2. merchaholic - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    I heard this is the equipment everyone will be using for World War 3.

  3. triplepropalm - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    The NHL already mandated softer shoulder caps prior to the 2010-11 season.

    This is an anonymous NHL player talking about them:

    Sometimes there are unintended consequences to rule changes as well. At the beginning of the 2010-11 season all players were required to switch to shoulder pads with thicker, softer foam on the shoulder caps.

    The idea was that the softer padding would reduce injuries in the event of shoulder to head contact. These new shoulder pads are universally unpopular with the players. They are huge, and I know many of teammates feel that they are so protective that they actually encourage players to hit even more recklessly. As a result, the new shoulder pads could produce the opposite effect for which they were originally intended.

    I am told the League is now considering going to the opposite end of the spectrum and reducing the size of the shoulder caps. If they make them small enough, the hitter might be more conscious of the chances of injuring himself, and therefore are likely to play under control.

  4. missthemexpos - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    The equipment hockey players wear these days make them gladiators on ice.

  5. pens919209 - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    I find some real irony in the fact that the league switched over to these Reebok ‘uniform systems’ to make players lighter and faster, yet the protective equipment has become on par with wearing a suit of armor. Looks to me like the wrong issue was addressed.

  6. bchaz19 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    There’s something to this. When I was playing in junior, they were just starting to put out the football-style padding all players wear today. Before that, most guys wore the thin pads that really did little more than prevent pucks from leaving welts. If you hit a guy, you were going to feel it every bit as much as he did – especially if you didn’t line him up right.

    When I was in college, everyone was wearing the football-style pads and the hitting picked up for sure because you knew if you creamed a guy – even if you missed – it wasn’t going to hurt much. Players need the padding on the hands and forearms, but if the game is played right there’s almost no need for those big pads with the hard plastic. You worry about a guy giving a BC-two-hander across your forearm, not getting plowed in the head buy a guy doing 20mph.

  7. icelovinbrotha215 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    The equipment is too hard. Mr. Snider is right. It’s the same with football and the helmets.

  8. sknut - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Are the helmets any better? And do guys wear mouth guards? I thought I heard that wearing mouth guards helps reduce the impact of concussions. I just hope they the NHL and NHLPA make the necessary changes to make players safe as possible.

  9. hank10 - Dec 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    The more armored the players get, the more invincible they feel and the more damage is inflicted on hits. This ties in with the issue with the seamless glass that was recently changed.

  10. hibackhand - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    players are in better shape than ever, bigger, stronger, faster. In the old days they would smoke stogies as a pre-game warmup.

  11. Jeff - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    I agree withe Snider and Davidson for sure. The players need to respect each other more too. Gordie Howe has been saying that for years too.

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