NHL general managers got together in Toronto this week for a meeting where various matters like potential changes to the structure of overtime were discussed. One of the other big topics of conversation was reportedly cut-resistant protective equipment.
The demand for that equipment has skyrocketed in recent weeks after the tragic death of former NHLer Adam Johnson due to a skate blade cut to his neck. Now that the demand is high, general managers want to make sure their players are informed about their options.
“I think the conversation is about what can we do, what is out there, different options for players and making sure we communicate well with our players to make sure they understand what is out there,” Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams told NHL.com’s Shawn P. Roarke. “There’s urgency to it for sure. The technology is better and player safety is critical.”
One of the central issues in the past surrounding cut-resistant hockey gear was that players found it uncomfortable to wear whether it made them too hot or felt too heavy. The general managers and league officials want to make sure players know that technology has changed with the time.
And, there’s a surplus of companies with proposals on the desk of Rod Pasma, the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations, waiting to be approved for use in the league.
“It varies in different categories,” Pasma said. “In the wrist area, I think there’s 10-plus, in the base layer, there’s 10-plus, in the foot sock, there’s 12-plus, in the neck, we’re getting there. We hadn’t had many, but as it sits today, I think there’s up to eight companies on my desk waiting to be cleared. And of those eight [companies] there’s probably 12 to 14 options to wear should [the players] choose.”
There’s a prime example of one of those companies’ products right on the Washington Capitals’ roster. Forward TJ Oshie has worn a protective turtleneck from his own Warroad brand in games this season and has some of his Capitals teammates testing the waters as well.
— Capitals Replays (@capsreplays) November 15, 2023
Both cut-resistant socks and wrist guards were made mandatory this season in the two North American professional leagues right under the NHL, the AHL and ECHL. Both of those leagues have rosters full of players that are draft picks and prospects of NHL teams.
With more future NHL players wearing the equipment on a regular basis, it will hopefully become more popular and simply regular among players.
“I know we’ve put a huge emphasis in development camp in getting everybody in cut-resistant everything and putting it in the minors and making sure when our drafted players go back, we have provided them and educated them,” Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said. “Kind of breeding it in so when they get to the NHL, they’ll wear it.”
Outside of cut-resistant equipment and overtime rule changes, the general managers also discussed making the NHL draft “decentralized” in the future like the NFL draft, and expansion of cross-checking rules to be enforced during crease-front stick battles.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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