On the ice rink, you are a gladiator. Do not forget this as they open the rink doors and you run into the cage. Your equipment is your armor; your stick is your weapon. Choose wisely.
My last blog discussed how to budget yourself as a hockey player. Check it out here: Save $ Buying Hockey Equipment
This time around I want to tell you about my equipment.
When I was younger, I could not care less about which type of helmet or skates I had. I just wanted to hop on the ice and net some goals. Though I still do not care as much about having the “best” products on the market, I now am more aware of what I wear.
After high-school, I was in need of some new skates. I was open to paying between $300-500 for new skates realizing I would be playing a lot more for the next few years. I was willing to go for $500 skates if I was confident they would last me 5-10 years, like my old Bauer skates.
I probably would have been open to more expensive skates, but I was getting a lot of feedback that they are designed for speed and performance and not exactly durability. I was hearing this from skate manufactures, professional players, reviews and so forth. I was not ready to invest into performance alone. I was looking heavily intro Graf skates, but I finally came across my dream boot.
The MLX skates:
Some of you may have heard of them, I know I still get the craziest looks when I bring them in to sharpen. They call it the Frankenstein boot with all of those screws sticking out of it. Honestly, it may not be the sleekest design but I loved it.
The CEO and Founder of MLX Skates was a retired Olympic Speed Skater, Dave Cruikshank. Along with the production of the boot, Dave would release countless videos on skating tips and how to make the MLX boot fit perfectly to your liking. So I believed in him and his company. Furthermore, the holder was able to shift laterally based on your preference. The heel section was flexible so it provided more ankle range of motion. Pieces of the boot could be replaced without sending them back to the manufacturer. I also found out that it was one of the most comfortable boots on the market. Everything and anything about it I loved. However, they were $800 boots.
That is, until the company got bought out by Easton to help them develop their next skate, The Mako.
I found a retailor who was selling the skates for $500. A $800 skate down to $500. My only regret was that I did not but the accessory pieces like an extra holder and runner at the time. They are proprietary holders/runners and if they broke I would have to replace it all. I never broke my blade, until now. It took me forever to find an MLX holder and runner replacement. I finally did, but it broke again. I think coincidence, but either way it is time for me to find a new holder. Not an easy task but I am not ready to buy new boots again. I could have avoided this if I bought the extra holders and blades to begin with. I said I would wait. Awesome!
Besides this one downfall of dealing with a skate that is no longer in the market, the skate is awesome! I have had it now for 2 years and can see it easily lasting me another 7 years. Because of the special material used inside, the boots mold amazingly around your foot. If you do get your hands on a pair of these, I suggest you check out all of Dave’s advice on Youtube: Skate tips and tricks
The unique design, the accessible and moveable parts and the fact that the skate was hand-made was all the reasons I knew I was ready to make such a big investment. The best part of it all, I just received a new credit card and upon my purchase of $500 I would get back $100. Win, Win. Obviously, I paid that debt off immediately but it was a nice touch.
Oh, and lastly the MLX stood for Mario Lemieux who was their main sponsored athlete. Could not get any better for me, haha.
After college, I bought a new helmet. Nothing was necessarily wrong but it was time for a new one. I wanted to have a very protective helmet; I believe this is one of the most important investments in equipment you can make outside of your skates for hockey. Basically, all of the top helmets today will protect you well especially if you have the right fit. I was though ready to spend a bit more on the better technological helmets, even if there was no actual proof that it was safer. It is your head, so I took it seriously. I was not waiting for actual studies to tell me if it’s worth it or not.
In terms of comfort, I knew I could not deal with any of the stiff foam helmets anymore. I was use to the gel-like interior, so something along this would work fine. I came across the Cascade M11 Helmet, and I was immediately hooked on everything I saw even its patented protection design. Had nothing to do with the fact that Mark Messier endorsed it… noooo, not at all. (fyi, my favorite player of all time)
Before buying it, I learned that Bauer had purchased the company and used the design in its latest IMS 7.0 helmets. I was not paying for this as it was my birthday, so I had no problem asking for it even though it was a bit more expensive. I figured that the Bauer IMS would be better than the M11. I am not sure this is true, I kind of wish I had the M11 instead now based on look alone. The cage is tight around the helmet, any suggestions feel free to let me know!
The Mako M5 Shoulder Pads.
If you read my last blog, I briefly discussed my explanation for going with the Mako M5 pads instead of their elite Mako shoulder pads. Like most brands and models, there was not much difference between the #1 and #2 and sometimes even the #3 models within that year.
The weight difference was insignificant to me. Heck, I usually wear a weighted vest to practice anyway, so what did I care. And then I found out the fabric used to go around my rib cage was made with something of lesser quality. A small piece to the shoulder pads, was made with something of cheaper quality. A piece I did not care about, because it was small. It was not any more protective, it was not any more special. It did not make me better. It just did not explain a $50 difference to me. Maybe, if I was a professional…
I ultimately chose the Mako over all other brands because it was a unique design. Instead of putting the pads over your head like a typical shoulder pad would have you, I would wrap it around my body and I believe this helped a lot while playing. I felt I had more range of motion in my shoulders which helped with skating and shooting. It was another great purchase.