ST. LOUIS - Jori Lehtera has played in nearly two full seasons with the St. Louis Blues, yet Equipment Manager Bert Godin has never sharpened his skates.
Not once. Not ever.
It’s not that Lehtera plays on dull blades - quite the contrary, actually. The 28-year-old native of Helsinki, Finland actually came to America with 80 sets of his own pre-sharpened skate blades.
“I’ve played with these for the last five years, and I have a deep connection with (the company) that makes them, sort of like a sponsor deal,” Lehtera says. “I haven’t changed, and I like the way they feel.”
The company, RamonEdge, is based in Finland. Like Lehtera, Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund also skates on RamonEdge blades. Aside from those two, Godin says this sort of thing is quite rare in the NHL.
“A lot of the equipment managers in the KHL (where Jori played) are not equipment managers in the way we are,” Godin said. “We’re more meticulous, we spend more time on equipment and sharpening and all that. Jori wasn’t happy with the way they sharpened skates (in the KHL), so he went to his guy, got several pairs and brought them to St. Louis.”
Godin changes the blades on Lehtera’s skates after every game day morning skate, ensuring the Blues’ center stays sharp every night. After about 30 games, Godin ships the used blades to RamonEdge, where they are sharpened and shipped back to St. Louis.
Occasionally, Godin and his staff have had to change his blades in-game.
“We’ve had instances where we do it on the bench,” Godin said. “(Modern skates) that have the trigger release blade are easier - just pull that trigger, pop the blade out and put a new one in. But Jori’s is the older style where you use a nut and a screw. We wait for a timeout and do a pit-crew thing. Take the insole out, take the nut off, pop the blade out, put another in and have it ready to go when the timeout is over.”
Having a new blade for every game might not be the most common thing in the League, but it certainly keeps Lehtera on the edge - and that’s all that matters.