Those with the eyes of a hawk, or astute attention to the gear that a player adorns while in the rink, might have noticed a running trend through two days of training camp.
Every skater on the ice, with the exception of the coaching staff, was wearing protective guards on their feet. That will be the case through camp, preseason and even the coming campaign.
“They don’t look very good but it will make us more fearless blocking shots,” said center Matt Duchene, a proponent of player safety. “Obviously, we had some key injuries to guys’ feet last year, so I understand why the coaching staff and management wanted us to wear them.”
In an effort to reduce the amount of injuries sustained, there has been a top-down decision to require the use of the safety equipment in all skating situations.
“It takes the element of a potential foot injury out of it a little bit more,” Duchene said. “There are still some areas that aren’t covered, so it’s still going to hurt when you get hit by a puck. But I get it and understand. It’s one of those things that I don’t think guys can really complain about unless it hinders their skating, and it doesn’t seem that way so far.”
Tyson Barrie, another of Colorado’s more fast-footed skaters, also sees the benefit of the device and said he feels there will be a minimal adaptation period.
“I notice them a little bit. I don’t know if it’s a learning thing or something you get used to, but I think they are a great idea,” Barrie said on Saturday. “We had some broken feet last year and stuff like that, so it’s a great way to prevent that. I do notice it a little bit when I’m skating. It definitely feels better without them on, but I’ve been making some adjustments to them and trying to get them as comfortable as I can. It’s not too big of a deal.
“That was my second practice with them, and they are already feeling better. I don’t imagine it will take too much longer.”
“I was pretty used to it the first time I used them,” added Duchene. “I don’t really think there’s an adjustment process.”
Ease of use is potentially the best way for mass acceptance among those on the team, although if Barrie’s comments are any indication, there shouldn’t be much of a problem.
“I know lots of guys aren’t having any issues with them and lots of guys like them a lot,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to get used to them.”