Posts Tagged ‘Reebok’


ImageThe CCM 4 Roll Pro gloves were a hit when CCM brought it to the market two years ago. IT brought the 4-roll glove in nylon since the CCM 925 glove that was phased out by the Vector and then the U+ range. The 4-Roll Pro II has undergone a serious re-design and the gloves now look more like the Bauer 4-Roll pro (now Nexus range). So what else has changed in the glove apart from the look?

 

The gloves have a similar feel to some of CCM’s other gloves that use the build from inside out methodology and actually feel really comfortable on the hand. CCM has mastered the art of making some of the most comfortable gloves on the market and the 4-Roll Pro II is following in the same path.

 

The biggest difference to the previous 4-Roll Pro glove is the cuff. CCM has made the cuff on the 4-Roll Pro II smaller and has left some of the elements out that were in the first line of products. The smaller cuff really improves the way you can stick handle. In the previous glove the CCM logo was stitched onto the cuff, but this time the company has used sturdy lettering to display its wares.

 

Breaking in:

Thanks to the glove being nylon covered, it is lightweight and that gloves are pretty much ready to use and game ready the minute you pick them up from a store. However as with any new kit, we recommend that you wear it for a couple of training sessions before you use it in a game, but the CCM 4-Roll Gloves are quick to break in and offer you a good level of comfort and responsiveness quickly.

 

Ventilation:

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Inside ventilation on the CCM gloves

Compared to the previous model of the 4-Roll Pro gloves, the ventilation is much improved. To be fair, the glove’s ventilation is very similar to that on the Bauer Nexus gloves. However, when trying out the two different gloves, to our hands the CCM 4-Roll Pro glove liner felt more comfortable than that of the Bauer one.

During game play, it is only natural that the gloves get wet. The CCM inner liner actually stays relatively dry, while the palm itself gets quite wet, and if you don’t have dryers to your disposal at the game, the glove can be quite uncomfortable toward a particularly heavy training session or game.

 

Protection:

CCM has used PE inserts in the glove and on all the rolls of the glove to give good protection from slashes and pucks. In the previous model the rolls and fingers actually had a very thin metal plate within it, which added a bit to the weight of the glove.

The thumb of the glove uses a three piece design like the previous version of the glove. We actually preferred the thumb design of the first gen of the 4-Roll Pro gloves. On the current one, the thumb area feels a bit un-protected at the tip.

 

Overall though, the levels of protection offered by the glove is really good and it doesn’t sacrifice any bit of the usability of the glove.

 

Quality and value for money:

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The grey patches are where holes were patched up, due to the poor quality of the palm

This is where the CCM 4-Roll Pro II disappoints big time. The palms of the glove wear out really fast and it is only after a couple of uses that you’ll  see the top hand’s palm starting to wear out. What was weird was that the pair we had also wore out from the finger really quickly (also on our top hand) which is something that hasn’t happened before.

 

Additionally, the bottom hand’s palm wore out quickly and actually left a sizeable hole in it. This is something that hasn’t happened with any other gloves we have used in during the career. With CCM gloves it is usually the top palm that wears out, but this is the first time that the lower hand’s palm wore out. Compared to the Sher-Wood T70 glove where after a season’s use the palms are still intact and the gloves are in top shape, the CCM really disappointed us with the wear and tear element.

 

The biggest disappointment in the build quality came when the seam between the palm and the actual glove broke down, leaving a big gap on the side of the glove and exposed the hand, which leaves serious questions, whether people should invest a relatively large chunk of money on these gloves as they seem to be made from paper.

 

In the end we ended up taking the gloves to repairs and ended up paying almost the same price for the repairs as the gloves themselves!

 

Conclusion:

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Further repair work, where the sutures on the palm came off from the main glove. Further disappointment for the overall build quality

It is a real shame that the quality of the gloves leaves A LOT to desire for. The gloves are genuinely comfortable to wear and ease stick handling. There’s a lot to like in these gloves, in terms of the features, but judging by the pair we’ve been trying out, we’re questioning whether you should actually buy them because of the quality problems.

If you are set on buying these gloves, be prepared to budget in repairs for them as well, or alternatively be prepared to buy another set of gloves mid season or at the end of the season. It is a real shame as we really liked the previous 4-Rolls from CCM and they’ve lasted a lot better than the new range of 4-Roll gloves.

However, we do hope that CCM keep the 4-Roll Pro in its line up, but that the company makes some serious efforts in improving the overall quality of the palm materials.

 

 

Pros:

  • Good fit
  • Easy to break in
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Eases stick handling
  • Light weight

Cons

  • The palm is not durable at all
  • Poor build quality
  • Poor price vs quality ratio

I blogged recently about an ongoing lawsuit that was targeted at football helmet manufacturer Riddell. A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5m to Rhett Ridolfi, a teenager who suffered brain injuries in 2008. The Colorado jury determined that Riddell was 27% responsible for the injuries, which equates to approximately $3.1 million of the damages. The court found that the helmet was not defective in design, but that Riddell had not done enough to promote the risk and awareness of brain injuries. Riddell is currently facing a similar lawsuit in Los Angeless and a complaint by thousands of former NFL players, who are also taking aim at the NFL.

 

What sparked my interest with this story is that I can see this happening in hockey as well. Head injuries and concussions have become increasingly – and sadly – common in the NHL and other European professional leagues. Whilst there have been advancements made in hockey helmet technologies to improve protection there has also been a huge uptick in the claims made by manufacturers that their products provide best protection against concussions and reduce impact forces.

 

What intrigues me is that, is hockey and the manufacturers open to a similar lawsuit? Some helmets that are in use today, do not make adequate reference to brain injuries or make clear enough clarifications that helmets do not protect fully from brain injuries. Remember, the brain is like a passenger in your skull and no helmet in the world can stop impact (be it with another player or ice) from causing a brain injury.

 

Having suffered through a brain injury and it leaving me with long lasting, permanent damage, it is a topic that is close to the heart and it will be interesting to see, whether there will be similar law suits considered against professional hockey leagues and equipment manufacturers as a result of the Riddell decisions. I know there are many professional players whose careers were cut short due to a brain injury and some who still struggle with symptoms on a day-to-day basis, years from their respective injuries.

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Product: CCM U+ Crazy Light (CL) Shoulder pads

Size: L

Available at: most hockey retailers and several online stores

Also available in limited edition Midnight model 

Price: €149 or $194

 

ImageCCM’s U+ CL shoulder pads are the company’s flagship product in upper body protection. The company has gone a different way to many of the other manufacturers out in the market. While many others have gone to create bulkier pads, CCM has opted for going for a slimmed and “stripped down” look. This is due to its work and feedback from a lot of the players who wanted a slimmed down shoulder pad that would still offer great levels of protection.

 

The big play CCM has been making over the past few years has been its U-Foam technology which has been deployed in its skates but has now been integrated into protective equipment as well. The U-Foam, CCM says, is stronger than any traditional plastic used in protective equipment. If CCM marketing is to go by, using all CCM CL equipment would reduce your equipment’s weight by almost 2kg.

 

LooksImage

One of the things in terms of look of the pads is that they look like a modernised version of the classic pro pads of the 70s and 80s. The pads stand up to their name and feel, well crazy light, in terms of weight. However, some of the plastics and straps do have a bit of a “cheap” feel to them.

 

However, having worn the pads for two months now for training and games, the pads have been put through their paces. The materials, even at the thinner parts of the pads are really sturdy. However, there has been some minor fraying of the stitching work on the pads.

Protection

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The clavicle and shoulder blade protection in the U+ CL is one of the highlights of the pads

One of the things I was really impressed by in CCM when it first introduced the Vector line of protective equipment, the shoulder pads featured a floating sternum protection, as well as floating spine protection. The floating spinal support was something that was removed from the CCM V10 and U Fit Pro few years ago. CCM has now brought these two features back and they can be found (to varying levels) from pads like the CS, U+12 and U+8.

 

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The Shoulder cup and bicep guard cover the shoulder/bicep area really well leaving mininal exposure between elbow pads

Perhaps one of the biggest improvements on the pads has been the shoulder cups. In the past few models of shoulder pads the shoulder cups have left something to be desired for. In the U+ CL the shoulder cups protect the shoulder area perfectly, not leaving any areas exposed, which was something that happened with the CCM V10. The shoulder cups do not leave any areas exposed.

 

Compared with majority of pads out there, the shoulder cups on the CCM U+ CL do not add bulk to the pads and keep up with the overall streamlined look of the pads. Other manufacturers seem to have gone for bigger, bulkier cups and protection, but there’s a disadvantage in the design in that it could reduce your ability to move as effectively. With the CCM U+ CL, CCM has achieved optimum movement, fit and protection.

What CCM has kept as constant from its previous pads is the protection around the clavicle and shoulder blade.  The protection around the clavicle and collarbone is superb and protects really softens the blows from hits and is something that has not been seen replicated to the same degree of protection on other shoulder pads.

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The floating sternum (and spine) offer high levels of ventilation as well as protection

 

The sternum area of the shoulder pads, combines hard plastic as well as CCM’s U foam to offer optimal protection. Again, these materials do not reduce the movement of your body, but move with you. When comparing this area of the pads to others in the market, CCM has an edge here as again, many other manufacturers have made this area of the pads really bulky.

 

Fit:

ImageThe CCM U+ CL has somewhat different style of Velcro straps than other pads. The strips are shorter and in comparison to old CCM models, or for any other manufacturer, the Velcro strips are small. There is a bit of concern in the way the pads will fit as you don’t have as big of an area to make the pads fit properly. This is why it is critically important to make sure that you choose the right size, so if you are going for these pads, make sure you try on a few sizes before you buy.

 

Otherwise, the pads sit quite nicely on the body and there isn’t too much in terms of movement and the pads do not move from their desired position, but follow the body’s natural movement whilst skating.

 

What about the name and whether it is actually Crazy Lite? Well, yes, yes it is. It is the lightest modern pad on the market at the moment. You will notice the lightweight from the first wear of the pads and it can be a bit of a shock when you first skate with it on. Has it made me any faster? I haven’t noticed a huge difference, but the biggest difference has been in the mobility of the upper body.

 

The other thing is that the U+ Crazy Lite actually transfers the sweat off of the body and the pads are dry, which makes a huge difference through out the course of the game. Not only because the pads maintain their original weight,  but also help transfer the sweat off of your body, which in turn means you will recover a bit quicker.

 

Ventilation:

The pads provide a great degree of ventilation. There are vents on the chest and back of the pads and the sternum and back protection also has plenty of ventilation on it. The ventilation really helps keeping you cool and the materials stay dry, which does not add weight to your equipment as you sweat. In fact, the shoulder pads is the piece of equipment that doesn’t need real drying once you’ve come of the ice. Even after a bag skate.

 

Conclusion:

When we first got the CCM pads, we were not sure whether they would be any good and if they would provide good protection as CCM has gone against the current and has slimmed down the design and used materials that do not add bulk and strip down a lot of the weight off the pad.

The CCM U+ CL is an elite, top of the range shoulder pad. Despite a slim look, it provides great levels of protection at the key areas (sternum, spine, shoulders and clavicles). CCM has gone the opposite way of many other equipment manufacturers and has gone with a slim, low profile look. It is like the old school shoulder pads of the 80s, except on steroids.

The pads are great, even if a bit pricey. However, if you are after an elite shoulder pads that provide superior protection, it is worth looking at. However, the CCM U+ CS and U+12 still offer similar levels of protection and might not break the bank.

 

Pros:

  • Light weight
  • Lean and stripped design makes it a dynamic shoulder pad
  • Superb floating sternum and spinal protection
  • U foam in shoulder cups minimises impacts
  • Perhaps the best clavicle/collarbone protection in the market
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Can look a bit cheap (It is in fact durable, but many have commented that it looks flimsy)
  • Costly when compared to other top of range pads
  • Velcro attachment areas are small compared to others (Choose your size carefully)
  • After two months, some stitching work has frayed a bit. 

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Pro level hockey equipment available at great prices available by clicking on the above image


It was interesting to observe the reaction throughout the day to the Erik Karlsson injury. For those who have not heard the news yet, Erik Karlsson suffered a lacerated achiles tendon in a freak accident when he was battling for the puck with Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. My initial reaction to the injury was that it was intentional, mainly because it was Matt Cooke, but after looking at the replays time and time again, it is an accident.

 

However, following the injury, Twitter began filling from tweets from Reebok, Bauer and Tuff-n-Lite hockey to advertise their cut resistant socks. What I find interesting is that the manufacturers have jumped on one of the NHL’s star players’ injury and use it for their commercial purposes. 

 

What I find funny about all this is that no-one has come out saying the same thing with the head injuries. I know I’ve discussed within the blog about the helmets and their real potential of protecting a player from a concussion, but still. I guess head injuries are a bit of a taboo to talk about, but if manufacturers are bold enough to take commercial benefit of an injury that could end a players’ season, then surely they could do the same for head injuries, unless you know, the manufacturers know that no helmet can protect your head from serious head injury.

 

We have seen concussions despite players wearing the latest and greatest in head protection and even saw Blake Geoffrion suffer a fractured skull despite his helmet staying on his head.

 

What I’m trying to say here is that it would be in bad taste to say “You know Blake Geoffrion would not have sustained a fractured skull if he wore a XYZ helmet.” and it is in equally bad taste to say that your cut resistant sock will protect you or prevents cut injuries, whilst taking advantage of a players’ injury. Image

 

If player safety and protection from cuts in hockey is such a great concern for manufacturers, why have they not made a big play about these products before? (I do let of Tuff-n-Lite hockey off as its whole business is around cut resistant socks and wrist guards).

 

I may be over reacting to it, but I just feel that the marketing push has been done in poor taste and is trying to exploit and injury, rather than building a campaign around it to prevent such injuries. In the corporate world it is generally frowned upon if you start taking advantage of your competitors’ misfortune and try to make money off it. You never know it might end up biting companies mentioned above. 

Why aren’t cut resistant socks mandatory?

The trouble here is that many NHLers and pro players around the world play without skate socks and cuts can happen at any time. If the NHL wanted to cut down on cuts, it should make cut resistant socks mandatory, or have is equipment provider come up with a cut resistant sock that goes over the shin pads. Where it might not cover the achiles area, it would provide some protection from cuts. Remember that in 2010 Teemu Selanne suffered a cut on his quads.

 

Remember when Richard Zednik was cut in the throat by Olli Jokinen’s skate? There was a lot of talk of making neck guards mandatory, but to this date we have not seen them as a mandatory piece of protective equipment. Same with visors, we have seen eye injuries and yet the visor is not a mandatory piece of protective equipment. The thing is, if a player doesn’t want to wear something, they wont. In the Finnish professional leagues, players are required to wear neck guards and where players dislike wearing them, they do so because it is part of the league rules. 

My personal view on cut resistant socks is that I’ve only seen long skate socks from Reebok and Bauer and I did not like the feel of them on my skin, so I use just the standard skate socks that you can buy. But that’s just my personal preference.


Stick Specifications:

Model: T-70

Curve: PP09 (Ryan), ½” heel curve, 5.5 lie, round toe (left handed)

Flex: 85

Non grip surface

Where to buy: http://nekoti.co.uk

SherWood hockey sticks have been one of those sticks that when I was growing up, it was THE stick to have and this is going back to the days of wooden sticks. The company has been producing sticks steadily and has two ranges it now produces. There is the Nexon range of equipment and the T-range, or True Touch. We have been testing a T-70 stick from SherWood, which lands near the top range of the True Touch range, surpassed only by the T-90 in the range.

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The SherWood T-70 side profile. The markings on the shaft are due to rubbing grip wax and stick tape on it for improved grip

The stick that we tested is an 85 flex (left handed), with PP09, or the Bobby Ryan blade pattern. The stick came without grip coating, though grip versions are available. Provided to us by SherWood’s partner Nekoti Hockey, the T-70 is a stick that felt familiar to the hands out of its wrappings.

The stick weighs slightly more than some of the other manufacturers’ sticks in the market, though there is not much difference in the overall weight. When we compared the sticks’ weight against other sticks in similar range, such as the CCM U+ Pro, the T-70 weight is similar, so it gives you an idea of the type of stick we’ve got here. However, the T-70 is equally balanced throughout, meaning it doesn’t feel heavier towards the blade. The added weight in the stick is due to the materials used to make the stick a bit more durable than lighter sticks, but more about the durability a bit later on.

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The T-70 blade with Ryan curve

The blade on the T-70 has a foam core centre to it, which reduces the vibrations throughout the shaft when receiving a pass or taking a shot. Though foam core technologies are commonplace in most hockey sticks today, SherWood have engineered a stick where the foam really makes the blade more responsive. Due to the design of the blade, it feeds remarkably well to the hands and you have a good feel for the puck at all times.

When we first started to use the T-70 one thing we had to get used to was the non-grip coating on the stick. Having used grip coating for a number of years, it took a while to get used to the feel of the stick and the way it handles than normal. However, the age old trick of rubbing some stick tape or grippy wax on the shaft resolved the issue.

The Shaft:

The shaft of the stick uses a build that ensures optimal flexibility, weight and balance and provides an excellent response potential, according to SherWood’s description of the stick. How that translates on the ice is quite accurate. When we first started using the stick, we found that it was really quick to load and noticed that it somewhat improved the velocity of shots. We say somewhat as we don’t have a speed gun to measure the shots, but there is a definitive, noticeable difference in shot speed and power.

Additionally, what we usually find with new sticks is that it takes a while to get the optimum flex from the shaft, but on the first try the SherWood T-70 was quick to load. Though the flex has improved and has become more and more responsive the more we used it, the T-70 provided perhaps the quickest response on first time use than other sticks we have tested or used.

Otherwise, the shaft uses a design with rounded edges, making it feel good in the hand. The shaft’s circumference is not as big as some of the other makes like Easton S series, which for our test was great. Though the shaft’s circumference is not as big as others, it hasn’t sacrificed much in feel or  durability.

Durability

Durability of a hockey stick is perhaps one of the key considerations when buying a new stick. You want to be sure that your hard earned cash gets you a stick that does not snap on the first use and you want to be comfortable in the knowledge that the stick is capable of handling your shot selection.

The SherWood T-70 stick is quite durable thanks to the materials SherWood has used in the construction of the shaft. It has a unidirectional fiber core and combines fiberglass and carbon fiber weave in a custom blend to provide added durability. Though these materials provide extra durability in the shaft the downside is that they add in the weight of the stick. However, despite this, the stick is equally balanced, providing you with good flexibility and response potential.

The stick we have been testing has been used both in the training setting and in league level games. In games where hacking and slashing is common place, the stick has gotten a few scuff marks, but is not demonstrating any wear in the actual build of the stick, i.e. there are no chunks of the shaft or blade missing, only some paint work, which is to be expected.

The Blade:

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Curve comparison. Next to the CCM CL with 19 (Tavares) pattern. The T-70 blade is slightly shorter, but in similar specification

As said, the stick we have been using comes with the PP09 (Ryan) curve, which is a ½” heel curve blade with a 5.5 lie and round toe. Modelled after the Anaheim Ducks star, Bobby Ryan, the blade pattern is closely matched by those of CCM’s Tavares (or 19), Reeboks’ Spezza or Phaneuf (P36 or P36A), Easton’s Cammalleri/Zetterberg, or Bauer’s Staal (P91).

The transition to the blade was quite easy as the stick we previously had in use was with a CCM Tavares (19) pattern and as the image shows, there is very little in between the two. Though at the start and the first few shots with the stick did fly over the net and there was some getting used to required, the blades were quite similarly matched in terms of the pattern.

Thanks to the foam core used in the T-70 blade, the blade does feed through to the shaft really well and does what SherWood says with the description in that it reduces the vibration when taking a shot. Like mentioned the foam core in a hockey stick blade is by no means unique these days, but the way it is deployed in the shaft makes all the difference. You might remember from the Beaster stick review where we mentioned that the blade didn’t really feed through to the shaft properly, but with the T-70 there were no such issues. When you receive a pass you know that he puck is on your blade and you don’t have to spend time with your head down wondering whether or not the puck is on your blade.

In game situations:

We have now been using the stick for about a month and in game situations we have beenImage notching up points with the stick since the first game we used it in. Like mentioned the stick is durable and has withstood the toils of a hockey game really well. The stick responds well to shot selections and like mentioned the talk of shot velocity is not a lie. Specially with wrist shots, the stick is in its element, though having said that, its not a stick that is designed to snipe wristers but can also handle a heavy slap shot with ease and has helped hit the top shelf on more than one occasion both in trainings and in games.

Conclusion:

The SherWood T-70 stick is a great stick and recommended for league players, or to those who are looking for a stick that is both durable and incredibly responsive. The features set that the stick offers is closely matched by the CCM U+ Pro, but is cheaper than many of the other sticks at this range. By no means is the price a sign of a bad stick as with the SherWood T-70, you get a stick that performs equally well, if not better than some of the competing sticks in the same category. Whilst it may not come packed with all the features of the T-90, the T-70 is definitely a stick where price, durability and performance meet.

Pros:

  • Design of the shaft fits perfectly in your hand
  • Responsiveness
  • Quick load and release
  • No vibrations through the shaft
  • Good price point
  • Great balance throughout the stick

Cons:

  • Non grip coating (Only on the model we tested)
  • Heavier than some other sticks in similar range

You can buy the SherWood T-70 and other hockey gear at:

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I came across an article on Forbes discussing comments made by Reebok-CCM hockey with regards to Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet. Apparently the head of Reebok-CCM is not too happy about the claims Bauer has made regarding its helmet. The RE-AKT’s unique selling point has been its ability to reduce the rotational impact forces. Personally, I’m not entirely sure how the helmet does this and questions I sent to Bauer at the launch of the helmet were not answered.

 

Reebok-CCM’s general manager Phil Dubé says in the Frobes.com story that “The topic of head injuries in hockey is too important and of serious concern to the general public to be subject of confusion in the marketplace regarding product performance.” Dubé continued by stating that “When I visit retailers, the first thing I hear about is the RE-AKT helmet doing something no other helmet does. Some of our helmets are better and superior to that helmet designed for that particular kind of protection. The advertising is misleading consumers and retail customers. The best helmet is the one that fits the best.”

 

It’s an interesting point, apart from the plug of CCM and Reebok products, as hockey as a whole has been gripped by the concussion epidemic, which has seen players like Marc Savard and Chris Pronger side-lined indefinitely and has ended the careers of the likes of Paul Kariya. I had written about hockey helmets and whether they protect enough at Pucks ATP and as you can see I referenced the RE-AKT helmet there as well. Basically, the RE-AKT is said to protect the brain from excessive intra-cranial movement due to the helmet’s liner.

 

What makes the story so interesting is that in the American Football market, helmet manufacturer Riddell is currently undergoing litigation for falsely marketing its helmets as having the ability to reduce the risk of concussions by a substantial percentage.

 

As concussions are considered an epidemic, many helmet manufacturers have now made more of an effort in designs and marketing materials to reduce the risk of concussion. As with any helmet, it should be noted that no helmet is 100% concussion proof. I’m a huge M11 helmet fan now days and I understand that the even though the helmet has undergone a series of impact tests, it won’t guarantee that my brain is 100% safe from concussion. The manufacturer says on its front page that the “M11 is proven to absorb more energy from high impact linear forces than other premium helmets to provide maximum protection”

 

I wonder how long it will take before one of the helmet manufacturers will be facing a litigation due to false claims of protection. What is important in helmet technologies is that the helmet fits on the head of the player properly. Choosing a helmet should follow the same criteria as choosing skates or other protective equipment.

What I would like to see in the industry is to set standards of head protection and then follow these standards and  that the core elements of head protection are available in each helmet. What we must not fall into is that the concussion epidemic becomes a pure marketing technique for companies. Hockey is a contact sport and unfortunately injuries do happen, regardless of what equipment you use.

 

The original Forbes story can be found here.

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For your hockey equipment needs, visit:

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This post has also been published by Pucks Across The Pond in my diary: http://pucksatp.hockeytutorial.com/2012/helmets-protect-head-brain/

 

As I’ve been out with another concussion (non-hockey related), I’ve thought about the so called concussion epidemic that has plagued the NHL and the sport of hockey for a long while now. I’ve started to think that despite the equipment us hockey players wear on the ice, there is very little there that would actually protect a players’ brain from a concussion.

Where the helmet has been designed to protect the head from potential injury if hit by another player, stick, puck, board or the ice itself, there is (at least in my opinion) very little in the way that a helmet would actually protect  a player from concussion.

I’m not a doctor, but my understanding of concussion is that the fluid that surrounds the brain is unable to protect the brain from severe impacts or forces associated with rapid acceleration/deceleration where the head would jolt violently causing the fluid not being able to protect the brain from these motions.

Helmet shells are commonly made from vinyl nitrale which do form a strong and durable shell to protect the head from impacts. The sole purpose of the shell is to disperse the energy of a point of impact, similar to a car in an accident where the body of the car has been designed to absorb the forces of impact in an accident to protect a passenger. The insides of the helmet are either made of the same material (the white stuff that majority of the pros wear) or polypropylene foam, which is supposed to absorb forces of impact to reduce the chance of a concussion.

A quick history lesson before we move on. As far as hockey goes, helmets are a relatively new piece of equipment. It was only in 1979 the NHL made helmets mandatory. Though at the time of making helmets mandatory 70% of NHL players were already wearing them. Sure helmets had been around before then, but it was the first time that players were required to wear a helmet full time. I had to do a Google search for hockey helmets to find that George Owen of the Boston Bruins was the first player to wear a helmet in 1928-29 season.

It wasn’t until the death of Bill Masterton in 1968 that the discussion of helmets became prominent and lot of the stigmas about wearing helmets started to dispel. A similar stigma now surrounds the use of visors. Majority of players do wear a visor, but there is still a debate ongoing whether the use of visors should be made mandatory to avoid career threatening eye injuries.

As for helmets and concussions, there has only been one company (Cascade Hockey) that has made concussion protection its USP. With it’s M11 helmet Cascade tried to create a helmet that would significantly reduce the risk of concussion. The M11 was designed to significantly reduce the forces from high speed linear impacts which Cascade determined caused most of the concussions in hockey. Additionally Cascade developed a system to adjust the setting of the back of the helmet to give it a more customised fit feel  and ensure tight, but comfortable fit. A lot of the times when watching hockey you see the helmet move on the players’ head from hits on the boards or player getting up after a hit and re-adjusting the helmet, which means that the helmet is does not sit right and therefore is not providing adequate protection.

Going back to the fitting and adjusting feature, I’ve not seen a similar system on any other helmet. The Reebok 8K helmet, however had something similar to it, with its FitLite technology. This has obviously evolved in the 11K helmet. Though I don’t want to take a snipe at the technology or design, Sidney Crosby the face of Reebok was out for 10 months with a concussion and is now sidelined again with a neck injury and concussion. People can make their own judgements of that.

I think aside from Cascade, only one other manufacturer has made a play on the reducing the risk of concussion and that is Bauer, with its RE-AKT helmet. The helmet has been specifically designed to manage rotational impacts, as is the M11 from Cascade. The collateral from Bauer says that the helmet helps to protect the brain from excessive intra-cranial movement due to the helmet’s liner, which Bauer has named VERTEX FOAM. I have asked Bauer how the helmet actually protects from concussion or how the liner in the helmet reduces the risk of concussion, but I have not received an answer yet.

But the real interesting thing is, at least in Europe, whenever you buy a helmet you’ll have a CE safety certificate on it to say that the helmet has passed required tests, but might not protect you from serious injury. As far as I’m concerned there simply isn’t, or hasn’t been enough done by manufacturers to address the concussion problem, but then again, how do you stop the brain moving around inside your skull? How do you stop a violent jolt of the neck/head from causing concussion?

When the issue of head shots raised its ugly head in the NHL, there was a lot of discussion among GMs on how you can take it out of the game and as a result a new rule was introduced (Rule 48). The NHL also set up a task force to better manage concussions and players who suffer a suspected concussion, hence the quiet room players are lead to mid game if there is a suspect concussion. If the NHL set up a task force to look into the issue and how to better manage the issue, why wasn’t helmet safety and safety features a part of this discussion?

To me it only seems obvious as one of the things that always crops up in concussion and hockey conversations is that “the players are bigger and faster and the padding has gotten better and bigger so players feel more protected”. Yes true. I do feel safer and protected when it comes to shoulder pads, shorts, elbow pads etc, but looking at the helmets over the last few years, I feel that the development has not been as rapid as with other pieces of equipment hockey players wear.

The other issue that comes with helmets is that the common advice is that a helmet should be replaced after heavy impact to the shell as it might lose its protective features. Again the Cascade M11 helmet is the only helmet that I know of that can sustain more than one impact.

Which leads us to the issue of price. Where the pros will have access to free equipment in most instances, guys who have to pay for their own kit might not be able to afford the top of the range helmet that provides the safety features that have been promoted by Reebok, Cascade and Bauer with their top of the range helmets.

A quick look on Hockey Monkey shows that CCM’s V10 helmet is the cheapest top of the range helmet around and retails at sub $100 at Hockey Monkey. I use the V10 helmet and since my last on ice concussion, I’ve been looking at the helmet and thinking how on earth does this protect my brain from concussions. Sure it protects my head/skull from impact from puck, stick, boards etc, but there is very little in the helmet to re-assure me that this will also protect my brain from concussion.

Also let’s not forget that Marc Savard wore the CCM V10 helmet when Matt Cooke deliberately hit him in the head in 2010. In fact, the V10 helmet has changed very little since then.

I haven’t been able to find the prices for Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet, but the M11 retails at $129.99 (reg: $159.99), the RBK 11k at $169.99 (reg: $179.99), The Easton E700 at $149.99 (reg: 179.99) or the Easton S19 Pro stock helmet which regular retail price tops the $200 mark. Please note that those are the prices as per Hockey Monkey and can vary from retailer to retailer.

Then there is of course the mirror test. I remember that the V10 helmet especially at the time of its launch was promoting itself with the tag line of “Guaranteed to pass any mirror test”. The mirror test should not be the first thing on your mind when buying a helmet. The fit and protection should be the top priority when choosing a helmet. You only get one head and unfortunately the brain is a delicate thing that can’t take too many beatings or injuries.

But like I said in my interview with Aaron Murphy, the contact and physicality of hockey is something that draws people to the sport and was a reason why I started to follow it in the first place. If you take the hitting out, we are left with something that resembles the All-Star game and no-one in their right mind would want to watch that type of hockey for 82 games (plus play-offs) a year. I guess concussions are something that you can never fully take out from a contact sport, but you can always make sure that players are protected to the highest standards and that there are medical checks to ensure that players with concussions are given the best possible treatment.

What I would like to see is equipment manufacturers include some of their ‘concussion prevention technologies’ into all their helmets. Remember all it takes is a funny fall in a game of shinny to cause a concussion. It’s not just professional, semi-pro or amateur players who are at risk from concussions, it is hockey players from all levels.

Think of it this way and using my car analogy from earlier. A car that does not meet the safety regulations in collision and impact testing by EURONCAP is not allowed on the road. As your brain is a passenger in your head, wouldn’t you want it protected to the highest standard when you play any contact sport?