If you ask me, the Carolina Hurricanes either took a step back during this off-season or their summer can be seen as a lateral move. They’re a strange team in some ways because they seem to catch fire one season and then fall apart the next; their irregular spurts of dangerousness might be explained by their top-heavy roster and aggressive style.
In the grand scheme of things, the Canes must hope to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2010-11 season by improving from within.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re willing to try some strange methods to improve their chances, then. Chip Alexander reveals that certain Hurricanes (including franchise goalie Cam Ward) have agreed to wear strobe glasses to try to improve their “peripheral vision, reaction time, perception and focus.”
The Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL who are experimenting with the equipment, which Alexander describes as “oversized sunglasses.” Carolina’s head trainer Pete Friesen organized the three-week experiment with Nike.
The Nike Vapor Strobe glasses, which retail for about $300, have strobe circuitry in each lens. The strobe flashes can be sped up or slowed down, changing between clear and opaque states with an LCD lens, as the players attempt to catch balls or stick-handle pucks.
“It’s just something new and creative to try and see if it can benefit your vision,” Ward said last week. “Especially at my position, it can really be beneficial. If I can find a way of making that puck look a lot bigger, that’s going to be a big help.”
The players wear the goggles 10 minutes a day and for training purposes only – they are not used in games. Some have been catching tossed balls, and Friesen also has used a JUGS gun to launch smaller balls at Ward at varying speeds.
After reading about that experiment, it might indeed make the biggest impact on Ward. As Friesen stated later on in the article, goalies often (understandably) struggle with having their vision obstructed, but few – if any – do much to train for those situations. (Beyond the obvious practice time devoted to scrimmages and so on.) The glasses might be an interesting way to give Ward that extra training in making split-second saves.
That being said, hearing the term “strobe glasses” instantly made me think of people having seizures because of strobe lights, so hopefully that’s not a major risk with the goggles.
It’s unlikely that this experiment will yield enormous results for Ward and the rest of the participating Hurricanes, but in a sport with often tiny margins of error, you can’t blame them for trying to find every little edge … even if they end up looking goofy in the process.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)