With frozen rubber discs flying around at skate level, NHL players are highly susceptible to foot injuries — just ask the Minnesota Wild, who have already lost Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella.
In light of those injuries, the Wild are now thinking about preventative measures. From the Star-Tribune:
In unfortunate irony, before the injuries to Koivu, Spurgeon and Scandella, [Wild GM Chuck] Fletcher met with several of his players in an attempt to persuade them to wear protection on the outside of their boots.
Next week, Francois Blondin, an orthotist and prosthetist out of Montreal, is coming to Minnesota to make moldings of each Wild player’s skates. It will then be up to each player to try out the custom-made shot blockers to see if he can play with them.
Fletcher says he will “strongly recommend” Wild players use the protective gear, noting that clubs aren’t allowed to mandate players to wear it.
The issue of skate protectors — and making players wear them — has been raised among various NHL clubs this season. Calgary all but demanded players don them after Mark Giordano, Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan were injured taking shots to their feet, and Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle expressed frustration when Joffrey Lupul got hurt taking a puck to the foot, saying he wanted all his players to wear skate protectors during practice.
Players routinely have two major issues with skate protectors. One, they tend to make the boot feel heavy. Two, they can affect skating (especially with crossovers), something Wild forward Jason Pominville touched on.
“My problem was when I turned and did crossovers, a part of it would hit the ice and make you slip. That’s the major problem I hear from guys,” he explained. “But after what happened to Zach and Mikko and Spurg, management’s trying to get everyone to get them in here, and I’ll definitely try it.”