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League to test curved glass at player benches

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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League to test curved glass at player benches
The NHL will test a curved-glass system designed to replace the padded turnbuckles at the end of the benches and improve player safety during this week’s Research, Development and Orientation Camp.
TORONTO -- The area by the player benches where the padded turnbuckle used to be should be safer this coming season thanks to its sleek new look.

After hundreds of hours of testing that included the use of crash-test dummies, the NHL has developed a curved-glass system that will replace the padded turnbuckles, which were set on the stanchions at the end of each player bench.

The curved glass flows from the glass above the boards and runs away from the ice. It is designed to eliminate the solid termination point that used to be in place due to the 90-degree angle that was created by the two sections of glass coming together at the end of each player bench.

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The League will be testing the curved glass again at the 2011 Research, Development and Orientation Camp, which begins Wednesday at the Mastercard Centre for Excellence in Etobicoke, Ont. NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com the League's goal is to have the curved glass in every arena for the start of the 2011-12 season.

The curved glass is part of the new safety standards the NHL has been working on since the general managers met in March and handed down a directive to inspect all 30 of the League's facilities and figure out what can be done to enhance safety.

"The curved glass came into that area because when we went to a safety engineer he clearly said that termination point is an abrupt end and we can't have an abrupt end," Craig said.

The curved glass will not be padded because the physics of it declare it doesn't have to be. The glass is designed to deflect any player who skates into it back into the field of play.

"That's because it's free-flowing," Craig said. "The curve itself is a continuation of the straight line from the glass and then it bends around. There is no place to put a pad. If you put a pad there, you create a hazard of having a shoulder stick and twist because this is a free-flowing system. If you're coming down the wall at the players' bench and there is contact, your shoulder will deflect off of that and you'll continue into the play."

The curved glass is also designed to push back into an absorption post before bouncing back into place.

"So, if by chance we do have a player hit that curved glass, it collapses about an inch and a half and then comes back into position," Craig said. "Not only do you deflect, but you deflect and there is a cushioned impact."

The odds of a player going headfirst into the curved glass are also greatly reduced because of its deflective design, which means further incidents like the one last season involving Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty should be minimized if not eliminated altogether.

"The curve itself is a continuation of the straight line from the glass and then it bends around. There is no place to put a pad. If you put a pad there, you create a hazard of having a shoulder stick and twist because this is a free-flowing system. If you're coming down the wall at the players' bench and there is contact, your shoulder will deflect off of that and you'll continue into the play." -- Facilities Operations Supervisor Dan Craig
"The curve itself starts right where the glass ended before, so it immediately goes away," Craig said.

However, Craig stopped short of saying that every potential injury that resulted from the padded turnbuckle will be eliminated with the curved glass.

"It's a body contact sport and that's the bottom line, but everything we have done, from the flexible goal pegs that we have to the protective netting that we have, is to protect the players and protect the element of the game," Craig said. "We are trying to minimize the number of instances that we have."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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