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The Danger of Hockey Skates

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11-16-2006, 06:49 PM
  #1
mrhockey193195
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The Danger of Hockey Skates

Ever since the horrendous Clint Malarchuk incident back in the late 80s, I have been extremely paranoid about the sharpness of skates and the potential for a hockey player to get seriously injured. Just recently, Rene Bourque got cut on his neck. A few years back, Donald Audette lost a pint of blood after getting his arm skated on by Radek Dvorak. However, considering how many games at all levels have been played over the last several years, and considering how relatively few incidents involving skates there have been, players must have fairly good protection against skate blades, or the blades must be designed such that injuries are far less frequent.

I played roller hockey in my youth, but never got to playing ice hockey, so I'm not that knowledgable about actual equipment. My question is, how sharp are player's skates (at both a professional and amateur level)? Are there safety devices that minimize the risk of getting cut by a skate (I heard of somethings called "safety blades", but I wasn't sure what they were)?

The reason I am asking is because I want the peace of mind to know that I will never have to see a hockey player get killed in the NHL, in Juniors, in College, or even at the local rink. I am a die hard hockey fan, as big as any of you, but in the back of my mind I know that had Malarchuk not miraculously survived after getting cut in the neck, I probably would not have been able to watch another hockey game again. As it is, I will never forget the feeling of watching someone inch towards death at the hands of my favorite sport.

My follow up question to all of you who play ice hockey is, do you fear of getting cut by a skate? Especially since mainly players voluntarily go down to block shots or passes, the back of their necks and the back of their legs are extremely exposed as there is minimal/no protection. Aren't you scared that another player will step on you in these areas? Also, since there isn't much protection, why haven't (relatively speaking) there been many skate related injuries?

Thanks.

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11-16-2006, 07:03 PM
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Heat McManus
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I worked at a pro shop in NYC (and will be going back soon) so some nights I sharpened skates from 4pm-10pm non-stop. When it got real late and my eyes were weary from staring at a sharpening wheel for 6 straight hours i would occassionally slip and cut myself on a blade I had just sharpened. Usually nothing more than a deep paper cut, but this is also with the blade or my hand not moving too much.

Skates can be VERY sharp! Even blades done at a low hollow can cause a serious laceration if sliced on the skin. This is why youth leagues have manditory neck guards.

There isn't as much danger while playing as there is during an open skate at a local rink where people are wearing street clothes. The Malarchuk and Bourque incidents are very rare. The last time something like this happened was in 03 or 04 when Yashin's fore-arm was stepped on.

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11-16-2006, 07:04 PM
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Hugh Madbrough
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Honestly it's not something I think of very often. I don't worry about it when I'm playing. I have never seen anyone cut by a skate in person. There are risks in doing just about everything in life. I worry about my safety more on my way to work than I do when I'm on the ice.

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11-16-2006, 07:09 PM
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FLYLine24
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Someone cut his arm from a skate in my adult league last season. He felt a little pain, didn't think it was anything then he rolled up his jersey and he had a huge cut with blood everywhere. The ambulance had to come.

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11-16-2006, 07:13 PM
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mrhockey193195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vakar Lajos View Post
There isn't as much danger while playing as there is during an open skate at a local rink where people are wearing street clothes.
But, for example, you see many NHL defenseman drop to their stomachs to block a shot, or you see many players fall down during a scrum in front of the net. Aren't these players extremely susceptible to getting the back of their legs stepped on? Especially with many players jumping off the ice when trying to avoid someone else on the ground,

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11-16-2006, 07:20 PM
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Heat McManus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrhockey193195 View Post
But, for example, you see many NHL defenseman drop to their stomachs to block a shot, or you see many players fall down during a scrum in front of the net. Aren't these players extremely susceptible to getting the back of their legs stepped on? Especially with many players jumping off the ice when trying to avoid someone else on the ground,
Most leg guards have wrap around fabric that comes across the back of the leg. Also, hockey socks are pretty thick. It could happen, but more likely the player would take the weight off their leg once they realize they were stepping on somebody's leg. If a player jumps up they usually know what is under them. Especially at the NHL level. Besides the neck the only spot that is left open is if the player has an area between the cuff of their cloves and the end of their shoulder pads. F

Players who go to their stomachs to block a shot are usually more in danger of getting hurt by the puck. Getting hit in the chest could actually stop the heart cold.

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11-16-2006, 07:36 PM
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Gino 14
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I worry more about a guy taking my knee out than I do getting cut.

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11-16-2006, 08:38 PM
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mrhockey193195
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Thanks a lot for your insight!

Just as a final followup, how many of you who play regulary wear neckguards(excluding goalies, who all do)?

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11-16-2006, 09:24 PM
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I do...I take the precaution of wearing a neckguard even though I'm like one of 3 people in my adult league that do. I do it so I'm not self-conscious so that it'll affect my play. Plus, our goalie had his arm cut extremely deep when he got stepped on so I know what can happen. I mean, the scar on his arm goes like 3/4 of the way around so it's a tad scary. Had some instances where I feel down in a pile of others and skate blades flying around doesn't make me comfy especially when you see someone else's skate slice your jersey in the process.

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11-17-2006, 01:17 AM
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Hugh Madbrough
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I don't wear a neckguard and I have only seen one guy wearing one in men's league.

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11-17-2006, 04:22 AM
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Don't wear a neck guard and have never seen anyone cut except at a public skate when I was like 7, a little kid ran over a fallen kid's finger. I've never worried about getting cut. Players are generally very responsible with their skates and we wear plenty of protection. I'm more worried about breaking my leg again or getting plastered into the boards from behind if anything.

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11-17-2006, 08:57 AM
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MikeD
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Being less than 50 feet from the incident at the Aud when Clint sustained that injury, it had always been at the back of my mind. As a goalie its a much bigger concern. I think for the out players, the biggest risk is at the very young youth levels. The little guys can fall and lift a skate, sliding a long distance or out of control. They also tend to bunch up. As players age and develope skills the risk is reduced. Players tend to recover their skates much quicker and when they do drop, it is rare you see the skates lifted.

Hockey socks do a great job of providing that fraction of a second needed when a skate does come into contact with a leg. Goalies who wear none are taking a serious risk. Another item that I have made for my son is a knit kevlar legging. From just below the ankle to the top of his knee is covered in a knit kevlar attached to a cool max w/kevlar anti-friction sock. To hold them up is a small strap that also works to prevent Iliotibial band friction syndrome( http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/itband.v2.html ) . One neat aspect is that the knit kevlar does not warm up. The legs feel cooler when wearing them under the hockey sock

My Son and I wear a gel collar that is covered with Defender Nylon. NOTHING will get through those. Puck impact is attenuated through the gel and a skate isnt going to even come close to making it through. They do not retain heat. They can also be placed in a freezer for extra cooling while not getting hardened. My youngest has had several instances where the neck guard has probably saved him from skate cut, one incident in particular that I believe may have had dire consequences had he not been wearing it. A skater dropped and slid into him with the on ice leg bent and the other lifted. Slid right into his neck while he had dropped to cover a puck. The player drove him into the pipe hard enough to knock the net off the mooring and into the boards. There was a slight crease/mark in the Defender Nylon right over the same area that Malarchuk was cut. This same player, just a few minutes later speared him in the neck to the same location when he again covered a puck. Player was then ejected from the game and ended up with a season suspention after review by the league.

if its a concern at all for you there is only one product on the market for absolute neck protection. http://www.maltesehockey.com

For your legs, drop me a PM and I will explain exactly how to get or make a set of what I call "slicks" for total knee down kevlar skate cut protection(youths Ankle to Knee 11-14"). It is pretty cheap.

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11-17-2006, 11:32 AM
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Jarret Stoll was cut badly two years ago when he was playing for the Bulldogs

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11-17-2006, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeD View Post
Being less than 50 feet from the incident at the Aud when Clint sustained that injury, it had always been at the back of my mind. As a goalie its a much bigger concern. I think for the out players, the biggest risk is at the very young youth levels. The little guys can fall and lift a skate, sliding a long distance or out of control. They also tend to bunch up. As players age and develope skills the risk is reduced. Players tend to recover their skates much quicker and when they do drop, it is rare you see the skates lifted.

Hockey socks do a great job of providing that fraction of a second needed when a skate does come into contact with a leg. Goalies who wear none are taking a serious risk. Another item that I have made for my son is a knit kevlar legging. From just below the ankle to the top of his knee is covered in a knit kevlar attached to a cool max w/kevlar anti-friction sock. To hold them up is a small strap that also works to prevent Iliotibial band friction syndrome( http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/itband.v2.html ) . One neat aspect is that the knit kevlar does not warm up. The legs feel cooler when wearing them under the hockey sock

My Son and I wear a gel collar that is covered with Defender Nylon. NOTHING will get through those. Puck impact is attenuated through the gel and a skate isnt going to even come close to making it through. They do not retain heat. They can also be placed in a freezer for extra cooling while not getting hardened. My youngest has had several instances where the neck guard has probably saved him from skate cut, one incident in particular that I believe may have had dire consequences had he not been wearing it. A skater dropped and slid into him with the on ice leg bent and the other lifted. Slid right into his neck while he had dropped to cover a puck. The player drove him into the pipe hard enough to knock the net off the mooring and into the boards. There was a slight crease/mark in the Defender Nylon right over the same area that Malarchuk was cut. This same player, just a few minutes later speared him in the neck to the same location when he again covered a puck. Player was then ejected from the game and ended up with a season suspention after review by the league.

if its a concern at all for you there is only one product on the market for absolute neck protection. http://www.maltesehockey.com

For your legs, drop me a PM and I will explain exactly how to get or make a set of what I call "slicks" for total knee down kevlar skate cut protection(youths Ankle to Knee 11-14"). It is pretty cheap.


MikeD -

Curious about what you are using - see, the point of a neckguard is to absorb the skate and not deflect. If it deflects, it will hit the neckguard and then slide off of it. Is the neckguard you using soft enough to do that?

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11-17-2006, 01:22 PM
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EmptyNetter
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mrhockey --
I'm trying to write something reassuring but everything that comes out will probably worry you even more. Hockey, as well as any pro sport, is inherently dangerous. But IMO no pro player wants to see another one seriously injured and will do whatever is in their power to avoid that. Most skaters would either stop, skate around or fall to their knees before skating OVER another player. Too-hard hits, either against the boards or in open ice are much more likely because rules or attitudes encourage them -- skate with your head up or you'll get hit, finish your checks, etc. On a side note, I've recently bought new hockey gear and every piece has a similar disclaimer:

This piece of equipment, when used correctly, will lessen the risk of injury. But as with any contact sport there is no way to prevent it.

Football players have been paralyzed, baseball players have been beaned by pitches or hits, NASCAR racers have crashed. It's the nature of the beast, I'm afraid.

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11-17-2006, 02:53 PM
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YoungJames
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I use a neckguard, it doesn't affect my playing so I dont see any reason not to use it.

I've had several cuts to my stomach area, between the pants and shoulderpads. They usually occur when I hit someone or go in the corners.

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11-17-2006, 06:02 PM
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MikeD
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Mod,
The defender nylon is simply a woven nylon fabric not a hard shell if thats what your asking? Its pretty pliable and I imagine the skate pressure into the gel would cause a forming affect that would trap a skate.



Gators is just the Slash guard so there is no Clavicle protection like the one pictured above. Also, the pictured combo is not made with the Defender nylon. Testing indicated it was way over kill for whats needed. Now it is a much softer feeling material. Not sure what it is...Where any neck guard is concerned the standard of testing is against a slicing motion. To pass, the guard must take a certain number of passes of a skate blade at a certain pressure with out being cut through.


Last edited by MikeD: 11-17-2006 at 06:07 PM.
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11-19-2006, 10:43 PM
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J-D
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrhockey193195 View Post
Thanks a lot for your insight!

Just as a final followup, how many of you who play regulary wear neckguards(excluding goalies, who all do)?
My upperbody undie kit has a neckguard integrated. Looks like Tomas Plekanec.
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File Type: jpg plekanec_iso_looks_194x260.jpg‎ (12.6 KB, 88 views)

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11-19-2006, 10:54 PM
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It's never happened to me, but I've seen dudes suffer various cuts from skates, although nothing too too serious.

I think there's a bigger risk in playing hockey from other things, like pulled groins, bruised egos from losses, and depleted bank accounts from purchasing composite sticks

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11-19-2006, 11:25 PM
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mrhockey193195
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Aside from the neck and the face (which are the most obvious parts), what other body parts are exposed and have no/minimal protection against skate blades?

I know that most shin pads wrap around the leg and thus cover the back, but I thought that they really only covered the middle of the back of the leg and not the upper (towards the back of the joint) and lower (the top of the boot) parts of the leg. Also, what about the forearms and the midsection (inbetween the hockey pants and the shoulder pads)?

I'm just curious to know what other parts of the body are open.

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11-19-2006, 11:46 PM
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You're seriously worried about getting cut with a skate? How about getting a concussion or worse? That's probably the only thing I'm concerned about playing sports. Not to give you something else to worry about, but hey.

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11-20-2006, 03:36 PM
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mrhockey193195
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Yes I am worried, because look what happened to Malarchuk on a fairly routine play...to say the fact that he's alive is a miracle is putting it lightly. And do keep in mind that an accident like that can no only happen at the pro level, but to a 7 year old kid playing in pee-wee.

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11-20-2006, 03:50 PM
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Hugh Madbrough
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you have a better chance of getting in a car wreck or having a meteor drop on your head than getting your throat gashed.

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11-20-2006, 06:03 PM
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sc37
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/\ Yes if you play with some competant people. But in a lower level adult league with guys who have a 50-50 chance of stopping...I'll wear my neck guard. Lotta collisions and pile ups.

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11-20-2006, 06:52 PM
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I was taught that a properly sharpened skate will not cut a person immediately after a sharpening. The person I learned to sharpen from rubbed a skate, freshly sharpened, across his face with no damage. If you look at a knife, it's the little unsmooth edges that actually cut. During a game you will get knicks and small rolles edges which cause the danger.

It's a small risk, but it's still there. I don't wear a neck guard, but it isn't a concern. I've never seen anyone cut in a game from a skate.

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