FanPost

Evolution of Hockey Gear

If you're a nerd like me, that means you are reading this and love finding out about the new equipment that players are rocking and how equipment has changed and is changing.

I'm sure there are some of you who have heard about upgrades or players switching their gear, but that usually only applies to sticks, like when Sidney Crosby switched to his one piece stick last year. (Or was it one to two, I can't remember.) Either way, below are two pieces of equipment that are new to the game of hockey but I think are pretty awesome.

Mark Messier joined forces with Cascade sports to create a helmet that focuses on protecting the brain and safeguarding against concussions. As we've heard a lot this off-season, the NHL is starting to crack down on head shots and protecting players, and we've been hearing a lot more about studies revealing more and more information on how concussions may occur, timelines, degrees, etc. A perfect example can be Ondrej Pavelec who was diagnosed with a concussion after collapsing and losing consciousness, even though he took no blow to the head, adding to the belief that concussions can develop over time and over numerous minor shocks to the head.

Cascadem11helmet_medium

Your typical hockey helmet has foam inside it, under the shell. The Cascade M11, however, uses a new kind of technology called Seven Technology. It is more like a unit of seven springs inside the helmet to help absorb energy, or impact, and then displace it equally out. Here is a picture of the Seven Technology in the helmet.

M11six_medium

This technology is capable of absorbing a hit and and then resetting back to it's original set to absorb another blow, allowing the M11 to absorb 80% more impact than other helmets. It also has been proven to perform even better as multiple impacts occur.

On a fitting scale, the M11 has 20 vents for maximum airflow, a ratchet type system for adjustable fitting, and lacks the pressure points that other helmets may have.

Some players that are using the M11 are Kevin Westgarth and Wilie Mitchell from the Kings and Chris Phillips of the Senators.

The only downside may be the price, which usually is around $120. That may not seem like a lot, but there is only one model for the M11 right now, as opposed to say a Bauer 4500 or a 9500, etc.

To check out the M11, the website is http://www.cascadeicehockey.com/the-helmet.html

The second piece of equipment is really a breakthrough and maybe even unconventional as it is inspired from Olympic speed skating. Mario Lemieux promotes a new kind of skate called the MLX, and no, it's not named after him.

Mlxskate-buynow_medium

The MLXs were created by David Cruikshank, an Olympic medalist speed skater who after retiring began training hockey players in how to skate quicker and more efficiently, but noticed all of the problems hockey players had with their skates such as lace bites and bumps and never being able to find a properly fitted pair. Hence, MLX was born. As it says on their site, "The goal was to determine how to make a hockey skate that would deliver the performance features necessary for the game of hockey at the highest levels, but also deliver the speed attributes from speed skating."

Now, I don't really know how to explain everything about this skate, that's how much is going on with it. Everything is adjustable, and I mean everything. You can adjust the blade, you can adjust the tongue, it has a better tendon guard (hello Jordan Staal) And the MLX is not made with leather or plastic like other skates, but with composite material, which helps prevent wear and tear which leads to under-performing and susceptibility to injury. This is similar to the M11 in that the composite will help disperse the impact rather than absorb it all into one area.

Speaking of protection, here is a piece from the MLX site about the skate doing it's job.

Case Study - MLX Skates Protect Malkin

"Malkin took a slapper off his foot late in the second period of a 2010 win last
season, 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He didn’t return for the final
period, and there was concern he’d be sidelined with a fracture, but the the x-rays
were negative, and Malkin is listed as day-to-day.

If you were watching the game and saw Geno go down, you might have thought you were
witnessing the beginning of the end. In actuality, you were watching the MLX ice hockey
skate do exactly what it was designed to do—disperse the puck’s energy away from the
foot and keep players from being injured.

When a normal ice hockey skate is met with a slap shot, it absorbs the energy inward.
And what is inside a skate? A foot. A foot with a lot of bones—26, to be exact—that can
break. And broken bones mean missed games. The skate itself will return to normal form,
but all that energy from the slapshot has been transferred to your foot, which could be very
dangerous.

The MLX ice hockey skate is designed differently. Made from composite materials, the
support structure takes the energy from the same slap shot and disperses it along the
boot of the skate, away from those 26 bones inside. For the record, that doesn’t mean it
won’t hurt, but the composite design gives players increased protection from stick and
puck alike."

Like I said, everything is adjustable, everything is replaceable, unlike other skates, so if that tendon guard breaks, which happens to a lot of hockey players, you don't need to buy a new pair of skates, you can just replace that piece of the skate. (As an example.)

Honestly, there is so much unbelievable stuff going on with this skate that you need to check it out for yourself. In fact, there might be too much for the casual hockey player. For someone like myself who has been playing only for a year, I don't think I really care about how my blade is positioned on the ice or how my boot is fitting, especially when I'm only playing with 40 year old men once a week.

Their website is http://mlxskates.com/index.html and though I may be able to read this stuff over and over and still not believe how cool they are and how much they make sense, it doesn't make sense spending $800 on them.

Some players using MLX right now? Sergei Gonchar, Dustin Byfuglien, and of course Penguins Evgeni Malkin, and I believe Max Talbot does as well.

*I want to add that I'm not trying to pitch these products to anyone. If anything, only professional hockey players should be looking at these seriously because that is who they are intended for in my opinion, people who play this game every day and are constantly at risk for either getting a concussion or always putting their feet in a pair of skates. The fact that the concussions have become a hot topic in the NHL and that is what the M11 aims to prevent, and that there are Penguins involved with MLX skates is the ONLY reason why I put these up, and, like stated in the very beginning, because I'm a nerd and love reading about this stuff, and I think these two upgrades in gear are amazing.

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at Pensburgh.com. FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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