Called “Thermoblades” it’s a new type of hockey skate that uses rechargeable batteries and computer microprocessors to heat the skate blades.
The result is a thicker layer of water between the blade and the ice surface, which reduces friction and increases skating speed.
Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky was so impressed that he invested in the company. Four NHL players have been anonymously testing them in game conditions. The product launch was at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the projected cost of the skates will be $400 Canadian.
My question is..why?
This innovation is, quite simply, a technological shortcut to a performance advantage. Those with Thermoblades will get a speed-boost versus those with traditional skates.
The only way to avoid an unfair advantage is if everyone gets the new skates. Not everyone can afford such skates, but there will be incredible pressure for every player, and parent, to keep up.
Ultimately, players will get faster, but so will their opponents. And once that happens, the performance advantage versus contemporary opponents disappears. So really, the game will simply get more expensive. For parents struggling to keep their kids in the sport, this is not good news at all. Neither is the potential increase in hockey injuries that may result when kids are hitting each other and the boards at a faster speed.
This situation reminds me of the introduction of clap skates to the long-track speed skating world. Clap skates became widely used just before the 1998 Olympics in Japan and resulted in a flood of world in Nagano. Whoopee! Big deal. Was it the athlete, or the skates? This technological innovation produced a number of record holders who will never know if they really were faster than their predecessors. And now, all top-level speed skaters use clap skates – they have to.
Hockey administrators: don’t allow the new skates in youth leagues. Keep the rink “level for all players. If you want a sport that can compare generations of athletes — and that’s what sports records are all about – forget about equipment advances that produce an artificial improvement in the quality of performance.
Dick Moss, Editor,