Every skater on the ice, with the exception of the coaching staff, was wearing protective guards on their feet. That will be the case through camp, preseason and even the coming campaign.
“They don’t look very good but it will make us more fearless blocking shots,” said center Matt Duchene, a proponent of player safety. “Obviously, we had some key injuries to guys’ feet last year, so I understand why the coaching staff and management wanted us to wear them.”
I’ve worn these kinds of protectors for about a year and a half and I swear by them. I’ve taken a little crap from macho players, but who cares. I’ve been hit by a few slappers (notably from a guy who’s last name is Cannon), and they have kept me from getting injured.
These are my skates with the Skate Fender Pro, about 10 bucks more than the regular Skate Fender.
So kudos to the Avs for being smart. There is just one thing about this that is a bit suspect:
In an effort to reduce the amount of injuries sustained, there has been a top-down decision to require the use of the safety equipment in all skating situations.
Yeah, that. You see, mandatory equipment is a matter that the NHLPA has taken interest in before. Visors are the most recent ones, but also padding added to gloves when it came to the New York Rangers a few years ago, and of course, goalie equipment. Go back further and helmets were a major issue for the league.
So a club mandating players wear certain equipment is a sticky thing, even if it is smart.
Also, I’m not sure how sponsors feel about the players they have endorsement deals with wearing plastic coverings over their latest shinny skates. That can’t go over well when it’s not the player’s choice. Sure, better to have them on the ice than off, but still, it could be an issue.
But more importantly, I wonder where the line on this is, and if it’s been OK’ed by the NHLPA (or needs to be). The Player’s Association would have a vested interest in the matter if a player were punished or reprimanded for not wearing the guards, especially if this falls outside the CBA.
As smart as it is, these have been around for a while now, and guys who have taken pucks off the foot have come back without them. Player choice vs. smart and safe plays out again.