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When selecting gloves, think safety first

Thursday, 10.15.2009 / 10:00 PM / Inside the Equipment Room

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We've really seen a trend in recent years of everybody going in the direction of nylon. Leather takes a little longer to break in, but it lasts longer than nylon, which breathes better and dries better but doesn't last as long. There's isn't as much durability with the nylon."
-- Equipment Manager Pete Rogers

Nashville Predators Equipment Manager Pete Rogers runs a tight ship, that's apparent to those visiting the Predators' dressing room, home or away. After 16 years with the American Hockey League Rochester Americans and 12 years with the Predators, Rogers is one of the NHL's senior equipment managers and one of the most knowledgeable.

In addition to his Nashville duties, Rogers has extensive experience with USA Hockey teams in international competitions.

Rogers was the head equipment manager for the Eastern Conference at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas. He has served as the equipment manager for Team USA at the 2006 Winter Olympics and at the IIHF World Championships from 1998-2002 and again in 2005.

Rogers also worked as Team USA's equipment manager at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2004 Deutschland Cup in Germany. The veteran worked his 1,500th game as an equipment manager in professional hockey on Jan. 10, 2009.

Hockey equipment has changed for the better over Rogers' nearly 30 years experience and it's been his duty to stay informed so that he can advise his players and management. You'll see below that Rogers has some strict rules when it comes to players' choices in hockey gloves.

With dozens of different models, many incorporating different features, how do you select the right pair of gloves for you? Rogers has the answers and he graciously volunteered his time to provide this valuable advice:

NHL.com: Pete, what are the key considerations when purchasing a new pair of gloves?

Rogers: The most important thing in selecting gloves is determining if they provide adequate protection. The bottom of the elbow pad should meet the top of the glove. If it doesn't, that means the cuff of the glove is too short. That's important for parents buying gloves for their kids, make sure that the protection is adequate.

One thing to look for is plastic on the back of the hand, just under the nylon or the leather. Sometimes, it's locked into the foam on the back of the hand and the fingers. You can tell by pushing with your finger to see if there is plastic there for the extra, added protection.

You want to also make sure the glove has a locked thumb. That protects you against hyper-extending your thumb in case you fall. All Predators players wear gloves with locked thumbs because we don't allow any other kind of gloves. We send that (message) out to all our manufacturers. Don't even send them if they don't have the plastic or the locked thumbs.

NHL.com: How long is the break-in period for a new pair of gloves?

Rogers: Nowadays, they make everything so light, but they don't make them as tight as they once did. Our experience is that guys want to wear gloves right out of the bag. There used to be a break-in period with gloves, but now they want to wear them right away.

NHL.com: You've spoken about the dangers of short-cuff gloves, but some players still wear them. What are the advantages of shorter or longer cuffs?

Rogers: With the shorter cuff, you feel like you can get into them quicker. But I don't know what other advantage the short cuff has over the longer cuff, which gives you better protection. If you have that gap above the wrist, extending up to the elbow pad, you're at greater risk. We've had guys break hands while wearing the shorter cuff. If guys here want to wear shorter cuffs, I'll make them wear a wristband that has a slash guard in it.

Take a look at the gloves the old Edmonton Oilers wore, those gloves were up to their elbows. They were the best team and when they were rolling through everybody, they were getting chopped a lot so they made sure they were protected.

NHL.com: Some modern gloves are made of synthetic materials, some are made of leather and some have a combination. What are the benefits of those materials? Is one type more durable than another?

Rogers: We've really seen a trend in recent years of everybody going in the direction of nylon. Leather takes a little longer to break in, but it lasts longer than nylon, which breathes better and dries better but doesn't last as long. There's isn't as much durability with the nylon.

"You're going to sweat and a wristband can help but you still have to dry the glove completely because if they stay clammy, they'll lose their feel and they'll wear out a lot quicker." -- Pete Rogers

NHL.com: If a youth is playing Saturday and Sunday games and practicing once or twice a week, how long should a pair of gloves last?

Rogers: They should last a season, maybe more. The palms are not as strong as before. Let me give parents a tip: Don't let your kids use grip tape at the end of their sticks. It tears the inside of the palms.

NHL.com: What else extends glove life?

Rogers: Make sure you air them out all the time. Make sure you clean them all the time. We have a machine here that deodorizes them and kills the MRSA virus. There are some rinks that do that. We use Lysol in between cleanings. That keeps them clean and smelling halfway decent.

The important thing is airing them out. We always put the palm face-up when we put them on the shelf. That gets the maximum air flow.

With nylon gloves, you can throw them in the washing machine, with regular detergent and some bleach, and then dry them out. That works well, too.

NHL.com: Do wristbands help prevent sweat from getting into a glove?

Rogers: You're going to sweat and a wristband can help but you still have to dry the glove completely because if they stay clammy, they'll lose their feel and they'll wear out a lot quicker.

Some players use a little bit of water to loosen up the palms and then they bend them back a little bit.

Most of our players use one pair of gloves during a game but some guys use two pairs so one set stays on the dryer and when they want to switch, they have a dry pair.

NHL.com: How should fingers fit?

Rogers: If it's comfortable and feels good on your hand. Your fingers shouldn't be out to the end of the glove, just like skates.

Contact John McGourty at jmcgourty@nhl.com



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