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Wild ‘strongly recommend’ skate protectors after Parise, Koivu injuries

Jan 9, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

MikkoKoivuC Getty Images

With frozen rubber discs flying around at skate level, NHL players are highly susceptible to foot injuries — just ask the Minnesota Wild, who have already lost Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella.

In light of those injuries, the Wild are now thinking about preventative measures. From the Star-Tribune:

In unfortunate irony, before the injuries to Koivu, Spurgeon and Scandella, [Wild GM Chuck] Fletcher met with several of his players in an attempt to persuade them to wear protection on the outside of their boots.

Next week, Francois Blondin, an orthotist and prosthetist out of Montreal, is coming to Minnesota to make moldings of each Wild player’s skates. It will then be up to each player to try out the custom-made shot blockers to see if he can play with them.

Fletcher says he will “strongly recommend” Wild players use the protective gear, noting that clubs aren’t allowed to mandate players to wear it.

The issue of skate protectors — and making players wear them — has been raised among various NHL clubs this season. Calgary all but demanded players don them after Mark Giordano, Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan were injured taking shots to their feet, and Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle expressed frustration when Joffrey Lupul got hurt taking a puck to the foot, saying he wanted all his players to wear skate protectors during practice.

Players routinely have two major issues with skate protectors. One, they tend to make the boot feel heavy. Two, they can affect skating (especially with crossovers), something Wild forward Jason Pominville touched on.

“My problem was when I turned and did crossovers, a part of it would hit the ice and make you slip. That’s the major problem I hear from guys,” he explained. “But after what happened to Zach and Mikko and Spurg, management’s trying to get everyone to get them in here, and I’ll definitely try it.”

  1. elvispocomo - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Here’s an idea, why not just make skates a bit more like they used to, with some added built in protection?

    • joey4id - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      When did pro skates ever have built in protection? Besides the steal toe there really was never a pro skate that offered more protection than that.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Not that they were protected per se but they have lightened the new skates so much that there is much less between your foot and an incoming puck then there used to be. Are you old enough to remember Microns?

        The materials used in the past were thicker and there could be some balance with having an energy absorbing material as a part of the skate where you’d be likely to take a shot (both sides, the tongue, the ankle) or even having the idea of skate protectors built into the upper so they don’t wrap down so low on the skate when added after.

      • joey4id - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        I’ve had the pleasure (hmmm….. maybe pleasure is not the right term) to play with skates prior to the stiff leather boot. i.e soft leather and stainless steal blades. i.e. no ankle support. Then went to the heavier Lange (like Micron), and yes there was a little more protection at the ankle, but, when you’re on the ice 8 days a week the boot cracks. Then went on to the stiffer CCM Tacks with Tuuk blades. Much lighter with little protection, and then to the top of the line Bauer. By far the best light weight skate ever made. So, the more padded boots were heavier than today, and I think adding the extra protection we see now a days will help balance weight with protection, Just my 2 cents. I think they should all be were protection down there.

      • imleftcoast - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Agree about the Bauers – so light and so much speed and control. I’d rather add the protection than go back to Microns. It used to take months to break in skates.

      • joey4id - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        leftcoast, We’re old! :-(

  2. btlpper68 - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Don’t c y u wouldn’t wear them, it’s not like your proving your tough not wearing them your in the nhl so ur tough as nails

    • strictlythedanks - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      restricting movement……….

      • joey4id - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        ??????? Players always have an excuse for not wearing extra gear. They had issues with mandatory helmets? They had issues with mandatory visors? How do skate protectors limit their movement? It’s not like no one is wearing them.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        skate guards don’t restrict movement. ask any goalie. it’s a weight issue at best, and with today’s ABS or even plexi, the weight is minimal.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        speaking of ABS, as an engineer with 3D modeling expertise, I proudly offer my skills to the Philadelphia Flyers. custom 3D printed skate guards fit to each player’s boot. finally, I found a way for an engineer to have a spot in the Flyers organization.

        pretty please?

      • strictlythedanks - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        When you are crossing over, they have potential to slip down and f up your stride.

    • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      this is another comment that confirms my suspicion that people don’t read comments before thumbing them. there’s no valid reason to disagree with btlpper there.

      • getadealdonealready - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        my guess is grammar and shorthand c=see y=why, it is pretty taxing to type 2 extra letters.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        he’s got an excuse if he’s on a phone. I still HATE typing on touch screens.

        but good point

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        ooh, also, I’m diggin the throwback name. ’94, ’04, or ’12?

      • getadealdonealready - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        Thanks it was an 11-12 thing when it seemed like every sport was struggling with labor agreements, so seemed fitting. Agree on the phone, however if you hit the first letter, and wait 1/2 a second it should auto complete the word for you

      • elvispocomo - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Well, the issue described by Pomminville in the article where it’s something extra that can cause your skate to lose contact with the ice when cutting/turning seems like a decent enough reason to disagree. That’s a specific reason an NHL player has with wearing them, beyond the obvious weight issue.

        And as far as typing on a touchscreen, get a swype style keyboard.

      • ibieiniid - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        ya, it’s currently a valid point I guess. but how hard would it be to make a guard that say….. doesn’t get in the way? i wouldn’t think it’d be that hard. maybe some engineer with 3D modeling expertise should get on that….

        and I’ve got swype. thing is, there’s no setting for swype while the phone is upright/not-swype when it’s sideways. i’m good with typing on the bigger sideways keyboard and don’t PREFER swype.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        Probably only harder than actually building more protection into the skate.

      • joey4id - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Sometimes I wonder if these random thumbs down/up are not the work of click farms.

  3. getadealdonealready - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Is this just bad luck for a team or a trend? I don’t remember seeing a lot of these type of injuries in the past, let alone to two top end type players on one team.

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