On December 19th, Bauer Hockey held a media event to unveil a new line of both player and goalie equipment that they claimed was going to be a “game changer”. Their basic approach was to charge their research and product design engineers in St-Jérôme, Québec to change the way hockey players could perform on the ice. The concept was made analogous to the automotive industry: remove cost considerations, aesthetic inconsistencies from the status quo, all preconceived notions about what was possible within the industry, and show us the future. A concept car. The pressure of the normal product to market cycle was taken out of the picture and the goal was pure innovation. The OD1N line was born.
Three core products came out of this endeavor: a body suit, a player skate and goalie pads. Bauer’s website has the keynote from the event if you are interested in checking out the specs on the skate and the body suit, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on the goalie pad, and its primary endorser, Henrik Lundqvist.
The fundamental mission statement for the pad was user customization and weight reduction. Bauer claims that this pad reduces overall mass by 1/3. Having not physically seen the pad, I cannot validate the claim, but if it proves to be true, it is staggering. Most pro goalie pads weigh between 4-5 lbs. Bauer is claiming over a pound of weight reduction. Which is nuts. This is achieved by utilizing materials never before used in goalie pads and by exposing a portion of this interior material on the face of the pad. Just for the sake of clarity, traditional pad construction takes a series of internal padding components and covers them with a “skin” usually jenpro, which keeps the internals in place and gives the normal exterior appearance of the pad. Bauer has used a large piece of foam and kept it exposed, which doesn’t require the exterior shell, further reducing weight.
The main Rangers related reason this is all relevant is that apparently, when Bauer showed Hank the prototype for these pads, he fell head over heels and refused to give them back. On the sly, Bauer re-skinned these pads to the TotalOne NXG graphic that Hank had been previously using and allowed him to continue to use the OD1N pad. If you look closely at the old pad, stitching and graphic textures are visible on the face of the pad. With the OD1N pad, the face is devoid of anything other than the graphic. Completely smooth and bindingless. Using my sleuthing skills, the first photographic evidence of the change was captured on Dec. 2nd against Winnipeg, a game Cam Talbot started. Hank has been wearing them ever since.
For the past month or so, I’ve noticed that Hank’s balance has been a bit off. His weight has seemed too far forward, leading to some awkward slides on odd-man rushes and less confident, balanced scrambling on net-mouth situations. So, I decided there must be a cause for this effect, and began to take a look at Hank’s stats since the introduction of this new equipment line.
It should be immediately noted that this is an extremely small sample of games to be drawing conclusions from. It is statistically convenient that Hank has used these pads in every game he has appeared in during the month of December. Starting with the team’s 3-1 win against Buffalo, leading up to the 5-3 loss to the Islanders. His numbers in those 8 games? 3.41 GAA and .874 Save %. While not concrete evidence of anything at all, it does beg the question, are the new pads affecting his game?
There is a lot of sample size noise surrounding Hank’s season to date. He hasn’t seemed to be himself at any point of the year so far, so it not necessarily indicative of the equipment change, but I find it curious to say the least. I’m honestly not sure what the specific cause of Hank’s balance issues would be without actually trying the pad on the ice, and it might be a completely unrelated mental issue he is having, confidence wise. However, usually when a tangible change can be cited for a deviation in expected performance, it’s difficult to summarily dismiss it.
I don’t know if the root of Hank’s problems lie in the equipment, between his ears or with his sloppy defense. These things usually aren’t that simple. I do however, believe that he will turn it around, but just be on the lookout if he starts to change things up from an equipment standpoint. It’s something I will definitely be keeping an eye on.