Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joseph Hall of the Toronto Star,
How light can you make a skate? How bendy can you make a composite stick before its shooting utility breaks? What’s the optimal time to pull a goalie?
The hidebound world of hockey is resting more and more on the shoulders of science these days. (Scientists are even investigating whether leaner shoulder pads can help curb the curse of concussions). And when science is involved in a popular pursuit, you’ll usually findJay Ingram nearby.
Ingram, one of the country’s top science journalists and long-time host of Daily Planet on theDiscovery Channel Canada took a look at the physics, chemistry and even statistical analysis that’s being poured onto the ice these days. The resulting special, Scoring With Science: Hockey Revealed, will air on the network Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. The Star spoke with Ingram about the program last week. Following is an edited version of that conversation.
Q. What elements of hockey are you going to be looking at in this show that can be translated into scientific terms?
A. Quite a few actually. The first thought would be the equipment. We do quite a bit on the design of skates. We went to the Bauer factory in St. Jerome, Que., and they worked very closely with an ice hockey research unit at (Montreal’s) McGill University and we spent time at both places.
So skates for one thing, sticks for another. There’s a lot of research looking into composite sticks to make sure they have the right flex and are designed in the optimum way.
But we went much further afield; we looked at the analytics of hockey.
from Dana Flavelle of the Toronto Star,
In what would be a David and Goliath contest, Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. says it plans to be a contender when the multi-million dollar license for the National Hockey League jerseys comes up in 2016.
The NHL license is currently held by Reebok, a company roughly six times Bauer’s size in terms of annual revenues and part of the global athletic giant Adidas.
“We have every intention of bidding,” Bauer president and chief executive officer Kevin Davis said after the company’s annual general meeting Tuesday at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
If successful, it would be a huge coup that would give the leading hockey brand more sales and marketing muscle, a sports apparel industry analyst said.
The NHL jersey business is worth an estimated $200 million a year, including fitting the players themselves and their fans with replicas.
from Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette at Canada.com,
Hockey sticks have come a long way from the days when I was a kid and there was no better feeling than taking your first slapshot with a brand-new Sher-Wood P.M.P. 5030 in your hands.
The P.M.P. was a fantastic stick until the bottom of the wooden blade would begin to split, it would get waterlogged, lose its snap on the puck and you’d be begging your parents to buy you another one.
The reason kids from my generation wanted the P.M.P. is that it was the stick most of the pros were using. More than 200 NHLers were using the P.M.P. model during the late 1970s and more than 6 million of those wooden sticks were made after Sher-Wood first put them on the market in 1976.
Other popular sticks over the years included the white Canadien model that was used by a number of former Habs, including my favourite Montreal defenceman, Guy Lapointe; the Victoriaville stick that my favourite player, Bobby Orr, used with one strip of black tape; the Koho model Mario Lemieux preferred early in his career; and the Titan stick Wayne Gretzky used before switching to the silver Easton aluminum shaft with the wooden blade when he was with the Los Angeles Kings.
from the Financial Post,
One would expect the CEO of one of the world’s largest sports and recreation equipment producers to be sitting on pins and needles in hopes an NHL lockout could be avoided. Yet Kevin Davis, chief executive of Bauer, remained unusually calm last week when negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association were at a stalemate. The league and its players may now be in a lockout scenario, but Mr. Davis does not expect the freeze on the 2012-13 hockey season will have a material effect on his company, which enjoys a 52% market share in hockey equipment. He spoke recently with Hollie Shaw about corporate branding outside of the NHL, the potential impact of a lockout on his business and how to increase participation in the sport. Following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Q: You have said there is a misperception that most of your “elite” category — the category which makes up 48% of your sales — consists largely of NHL players. How do you think a lockout would affect sales?
A: When we talk about elite performance and recreation, we are talking about the price point of the product—not necessarily the athlete that is using it. So when we say 48% of our revenue comes from elite, if you are a 14-year-old frequent hockey player in a high-level travel team, you are an elite player. Our primary market is the 12- to 18-year-old hockey player. We want the NHL season to start as much as anybody else does, but from a business standpoint there are about 650 guys playing in the NHL and about six-million kids playing hockey around the world. From a financial point of view, for us it is a very small part of our revenue.
Q: Isn’t it likely, though, that a lockout would affect the marketing of your products?
A: We are the number one brand in the NHL in every category, and certainly having those guys on the ice is better for our marketing than not having them on the ice. But, while it is important, we don’t rely solely on NHL as our marketing for kids....
from Greg McArthur and Lisa Priest of the Globe and Mail,
Next week, a group of businessmen and a podiatrist will unveil, at the Hockey Hall of Fame, what has been dubbed a “revolutionary” step in the protection of athletes’ heads – the noggin, a form-fitting black skull cap outfitted with cushioning gel packs that athletes can wear under their helmets….
But one word not likely to be uttered at Tuesday’s press conference is “concussion” – even though the company previously claimed in promotional material that wearing the $29 polyester and spandex cap under a helmet “significantly reduces the chance of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries.”
The noggin, some neurologists and biomechanical engineers say, is the latest example of an overhyped attempt to solve hockey’s concussion epidemic with protective equipment – a trend preying on parents’ worst fears.
Here’s the website for the Noggin if you want additional information.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Reebok-CCM dubs its next-generation gear “Crazy Light.’’ The Crazy Light shoulder pads weigh 750 grams. Traditional shoulder pads weigh 1,000-1,500 grams. The pads feature a softer material called UFoam instead of hard plastic.
The line is undergoing testing. Select players, including Reebok-CCM endorsers, tested the new pads in the 2011-12 season. The advantage to the Crazy Light line, according to Dube, is how it protects the wearer while also spreading out impact.
“It’s more diffuse,’’ Dube said. “There is a reduced stress of impact. It also absorbs more impact. It reduces the angular acceleration, which is key.’’
According to Shanahan, some players have tested the softer shoulder pads. Like Dube, Shanahan does not have a timetable as to when such pads will become standard.
“We’re going in a different direction now, where we’re trying to make it more streamlined, where it’s as protective, but softer and safer,’’ Shanahan said.
more and other hockey topics…
from Glenn Healy of CBC,
Goaltending styles evolve over time. Some of this evolution is based on the success of goalies who have a certain style that gives them success and then other goalies play the copycat game.
Patrick Roy had great success with the butterfly style and most of the goalies coming out of Quebec emulated his style. The emergence of the butterfly goalie is not just about copying a Hall of Famer like Roy, but related to a host of issues that created the drop-and-block style.
In the late 1980’s, goaltending equipment was revolutionized. Heavy and bulky pads stuffed with deer hair were replaced with light foam pads. Pads went from 12 pounds a pair to four and that is significant.
This allowed goalies to be more mobile and lengthened many careers. Goalies could remain mobile as they approached their mid 30’s, allowing them to make east-west type saves.
Bigger goalies obviously cover more net. But with the heavy pads of the 80’s, they had trouble with movement. Welcome the newer lighter pads and big goalies could become quick and big.
Size and quickness is a great combination and it is now the trend in the NHL to have big goalies who cover a ton of net and can move east to west.
via Golf Digest,
More details are coming in about the new stick being developed by TaylorMade and hockey equipment manufacturer CCM. Already in use by a couple of NHL players, the RBZ stick will be introduced in June at the NHL Entry Draft and should be available at retail this fall. Unlike the company’s new line of metalwoods and irons, the RBZ does not stand for “RocketBallz,” but rather “RocketBladez.”
According to TaylorMade chief technology officer Benoit Vincent, the stick uses a fundamentally different structure than typical hockey sticks.
“The blade on a hockey stick, which is analogous to the club head on a golf club, is responsible for making contact with the puck and imparting the energy stored in the shaft during a player’s swing,” Vincent wrote in an email to Golf Digest this morning. “By understanding how a metalwood club face is designed to maximize COR [coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect, the rule limiting the speed-producing potential of a clubface], we drew upon this concept to develop the very first completely hollow, or air-core, structure in a blade.
“Traditionally, hockey stick blades have been a sandwich structure comprised of composite skins adhered to an inner core made of polymer foam. By removing the foam through a novel structural design and manufacturing process, we have not only improved the mass distribution in the stick for a faster swing speed, but the unsupported region on the blade face increases COR. We combine these blade improvements with a shaft that has a finely tuned stiffness profile to return maximum energy at puck release.”
You can view a video on the stick below…
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Kris King, the NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations, said even though the league and the NHL Players’ Association mandated soft-cap elbow and shoulder pads, with at least half an inch of padding over any hard plastic caps, over the last several years, and reduced the size of the shoulder pads, efforts are continuing to make the shoulder pads smaller yet. The NHL made soft-elbow pads mandatory in 2003 and did the same with shoulder pads for the 2010-11 season. The CHL introduced them this season as part of a strategy to reduce concussions.
King said the NHL’s statistics show the number of concussions from blows by elbows to the head is “enormously reduced” since 2003. However, he said the statistics for those hits plus shoulder hits to the head that result in concussions will not be made public until the NHL’s annual general managers meetings in March.
from Chris Gorski at PHYSORG.com,
Compared with state-of the-art composite materials favored by the other players on the ice, the age-old wooden material dampens the sting of vibrations more effectively, making it simply more comfortable for goalies to wield a wooden stick.
In Flint, Mich., Kettering University undergraduate student Linda Hunt studied the way goalie sticks respond to impacts along with her adviser, Daniel Russell. Presented earlier this month at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Diego, the project quantified a feeling often expressed by many goalies playing at higher levels….
Most NHL goalies use wooden sticks, officials from the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets said. Hurricanes equipment manager Bob Gorman explained that one of their goalies does use a composite stick, primarily because it weighs less than a wooden one.
The energy of a frozen puck traveling 100 mph is quickly absorbed by the thick padding of a goalie’s leg pads. But the sticks—wooden or composite—are not as forgiving. The puck transfers its energy to the stick, which vibrates violently.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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