Since the Rangers have been kind of bumming me out recently (last night’s domination notwithstanding), I thought I’d take a look at a relatively recent development in goalie equipment and how it has revolutionized the industry. In the skate department, that innovator generally tends to be Bauer. On both the player and goalie side there have significant landmark products that change the landscape of how skates are constructed, utilized and improved.
Starting back with the original Vapor line, Bauer sought to reduce weight, while increasing stiffness and quality of the materials used in skate construction. In 2003, Bauer had its biggest breakthrough in skate technology, the Vapor XX. This skate was the lightest skate ever built at the time, and absolutely took the hockey world by storm. I was working at a pro-shop at the time, and remembered thinking they had lightened them up to the point they felt like a running shoe. It was insane.
The point of the history lesson is that, traditionally, goalie skates have tended to lag behind their positional brethren when it comes to technological innovation. I don’t have the exact date, but the TUUK goalie cowling was in place from at least the early 90’s to about 2010. This brings us to the One100 skate.
Goalies hadn’t had much problem getting around on the ice with the old (or other company’s) cowlings, but the One100 was a game changer. With this product, Bauer completely reimaged the function of the cowling on a goal skate. In the past, the primary purpose for the cowling around the boot was protection. While this was still a major consideration with the One100, it was met with equal priority in weight reduction and increased attack angle and lateral movement capabilities.
As you can see from the photo above, there is a dramatic angle in which the goalie can lower their skate to the ice, while still having full control of the edge of the blade. This has two predominant effects; it allows for goalies to utilize a much wider stance with the same comfortable mobility, and starkly decreases the angle in which a goalie has to raise his push leg into order to grip the ice for executing a butterfly slide.
Over the last few seasons we have seen a huge increase NHL tenders being able to execute insanely fluid, quick and accurate slide-based movements. The Rangers connection here is that these are the skates Henrik Lundqvist switched to prior to the 2010-2011 season. Coincidentally, Hank had his two finest NHL seasons directly after the switch.
As you can see, Hank naturally has a very wide stance. Since the skate switch, he has been able to maintain his balance better and increase his lateral explosiveness since he doesn’t have to pull his leg in as close to his body to grip the ice on the push.
As evidenced above, Hank’s push foot is barely above the normal butterfly level, but he has a flush blade surface to push from. Other cowling models require a much higher/closer lift of the push leg to acquire the proper angle to grip the ice.
It’s easy to forget just how far equipment has come in even the past twenty years. Every once in a while though, its easy to spot a game changer. Henrik Lundqvist’s play over the past two seasons is living proof as to just how valuable and revolutionary this product really was.