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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

So your kid wants to play hockey?

Welcome to the world of being a hockey parent. Before you get settled in for a long winter spent in frigid rinks drinking terrible coffee, your first task is getting your future star all geared up. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as easy as walking into your favorite store and pulling the corresponding sizes off the racks.

Trust me, I’ve seen it all over the years. Growing up, I used to pester my dad for all the equipment that my favorite players wore. Whether it was Wayne Gretzky’s Titan stick or Jofa helmet, I had to have it. Then as a teenager, I spent two years working for a sporting goods store in Toronto. Even after I spent countless hours in product knowledge seminars with the leading hockey equipment manufacturers, the customers always assumed they knew better when it came to their purchases. Now it feels like I’ve come full circle, as both a hockey dad and coach to my nine-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

Trust me when I say you can never know enough about properly fitting hockey equipment, especially as it pertains to kids. Just because you can walk into a store and buy a new helmet for yourself in five minutes, it doesn’t mean you can do the same for your aspiring NHL’er. It happened to me while Christmas shopping this year.

It was time to get Alex a new helmet/cage combo, so I stopped into a local retailer on the way home from a Saturday practice. Not having her with me, I grabbed the size that I thought was appropriate. Bad move. When she unwrapped it on Christmas morning, I could immediately tell that it was too big. Even at the smallest setting, it pivoted up and down, and side to side. It would’ve saved me a few bucks in the long run knowing she’d eventually grow into it, but there was no way I could have her wear it on the ice and risk injury.

This applies to everything from helmets and skates, to sticks and protective padding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a kid wearing oversized skates, or using a stick that would be too long for Tyler Myers. Educating yourself about the equipment buying process is no different than power skating drills for the kids: the more you know, the better you’ll get at it.

With this in mind, we’ve partnered with Great Skate to present a series of videos to teach parents and kids about how to properly fit hockey equipment. Hosted by Rob Ray, the videos will focus on everything you’ll need to know when buying skates, sticks and helmets. So sit back, relax, and get on your way to making the equipment buying process as enjoyable as a hockey game itself!
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