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Cut-resistant socks are a good idea

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – It’s been discussed in the Red Wings’ locker room before.

Bauer (L) and Reebok (R) are two of the manufacturers of Kevlar socks worn by several Red Wings' players this season. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

Should players wear cut-resistant material, particularly socks and wrist bands?

Had Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson been wearing a pair of Kevlar socks in Pittsburgh Wednesday night, the reigning Norris Trophy winner would be preparing for the Senators’ next game. Instead, he’s prepping for surgery to repair a severed Achilles’ tendon that will force him to miss the rest of the season.

“We should all have Kevlar shirts and socks,” said Daniel Cleary, who used Mike Modano, Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula and Ian White as examples of recent teammates seriously cut by skate blades.

“It’s hard to Kevlar every part that’s open, but shirts and socks should be worn and even guards for wrists,” Cleary said. “Instead of a severed tendon, you’d probably get some stitches. It’s like a bullet proof vest, it’s going to hurt and probably leave a mark, just not as deep.”

Jimmy Howard has worn a pair of protective socks in practice since last season. Now, after learning of Karlsson’s injury, and seeing the damaged caused by the heel of his own skate blade that punctured White’s left thigh in the home opener, the Wings’ goalie said he’ll give the socks a try in games.

Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson are among the Wings’ players already wear the Kevlar socks. Ericsson, Filppula, Cleary, Helm and Todd Bertuzzi also wear the protective forearm sleeves, which, like the socks, also feature Kevlar.

Some NHL players were introduced to the products last season, but many have complained of the socks being too heavy, bulky and hot, three things that don’t make equipment very conducive for players.

But there isn’t a human tendon or artery that’s resisted a razor-sharp skate blade, either.

Ericsson recently stopped using the socks when they began hurting his ankles. But after the injury to his fellow Swede, he’s had a change of heart.

“I wore them then they started to give my ankles really bad sores,” the Wings’ defenseman said. “They’re hard, almost like steel. I wear the sleeves now too, they’re fine with me. The socks were too, until they started bothering me.”

Last summer, the three big hockey apparel manufacturers went back to the drawing board and created a sock that is both protective and comfortable, Red Wings’ equipment manager Paul Boyer said.

“I would say that more than half of the league is going toward a cut-resistant sock,” he said. “Guys are putting them on because the product is better. … Last night may give it a little push, but we’ve seen players going toward it before last night.”

In town to face the Red Wings on Friday night, Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne, who suffered a cut Achilles in his second NHL season, said Thursday that he would like to the league make Kevlar mandatory.

“When I got my Achilles tendon, I was lucky it was 85 percent cut,” Selanne said. “It took me like six months to get perfect, when you get all the mobility back. It took a long time.”

Selanne did a demonstration for the media in the Ducks’ dressing room inside Joe Louis Arena. With a Kevlar sleeve in one hand he dragged a skate blade across the sleeve, and said, “This doesn’t cut.”

If it was up to coaches, NHL players would be covered from head-to-toe in body armor.

“We’ve talked about this stuff here tons,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The one that I can’t understand is the gloves that are two-inches long and the whole wrist is showing. But it’s like visors, once you get hit in the eye. … They’re big boys and they make those decisions.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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