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Isles Longread: Geared Up

An inside look into the equipment tendencies of the New York Islanders

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /

For hockey players, who are notorious creatures of habit and operate on regimented routines, maintaining and fine tuning their gear is crucial to ensure that they have the modes for a proper performance. With 16 potential pieces equipment to use on a given day, the practice of calibrating the gear itself can be quite meticulous.

At its core, the equipment tendencies are personal preferences at the intersection of comfort and performance. If a player prefers a new blade at the start of every period or goes to extreme measures to preserve a pair of elbow pads for the year, the perception may appear "picky" on the surface, but there's an almost immediate justification behind the logic of those calculated tunings. After all, these adjustments are vital methods to ensure every instrument produces the perfect pitch.  

"You know what? I'm really not that picky," Jordan Eberle explained. "I think it's more of what you feel comfortable with. I'm just picky about some things. That's what it comes down to, what feels best for you."

Trying to categorize players based on these preferences is a tall order, and to factor in the wide spectrum of individual preferences based off of such a vast variety of equipment itself is quite the toilsome tangle. 

Scott Mayfield proposed his own pragmatic solution; separate players into three groups on the basis of frequency of change or need for adjustments and on the flexibility to experiment with new gear. 

"I think there's guys who are relatively easy going and low maintenance," Mayfield explained. "Those are the guys that are either just super easy and don't ask the equipment guys for a lot and don't switch things up really ever. Or you could also say those are the guys that have figured out what they prefer and haven't changed from that. Then, there's guys I'd say who are a little more difficult maybe just because they're particular about certain things here and there, or they're relatively laid back outside of something like gloves. And then you've got guys who maybe make more of a fuss or just need a lot of maintenance."

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