By MICHAEL MONTALTO
The Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League suffered an enormous loss, when an opponent’s skate blade sliced a star player on his left Achilles tendon during a game against the Pittsburg Penguins on Feb 13.
Last year’s Norris Trophy winner as the leagues best defenseman, Erik Karlsson will likely miss the rest of the 2013 season, but it is likely that the injury could have been prevented if he was wearing cut resistant Kevlar socks.
“It is a shame to see a star player taken out in a freak accident like that,” the Ramapo College roller hockey team’s coach, Eric Yoskowitz said.
The play occurred when Karlsson and Pittsburg defensemen Matt Cooke went into the boards on a normal looking play. Cooke’s skate blade rose off the ice and made contact between Karlsson’s skate boot and under the shin guard.
Karlsson was visibly in pain, and could not put any weight on his left leg. The resulting injury was a 70 percent cut through Karlsson’s left Achilles tendon. After a strong start, tallying 6 goals and assists in 14 games this season, Karlsson will have to sit out the remainder of the season.
“I think if Karlsson was wearing protective socks under his skates, he would not of suffered such a devastating injury,” Yoskowitz said.
Equipment companies like Bauer have made protective socks for years, but after Karlsson’s injury debate on whether these socks should be mandatory.
Bauer’s Elite Performance Skate Sock is crafted with Kevlar brand fiber for cut resistant protection, made with 60 percent Kevlar, 20 percent polyester, 18 percent nylon, and 12 percent spandex according to Bauer.com.
While manufacturers have avoided labeling their products as cut proof, they do claim that the socks reduce the risk of slicing injuries.
Bauer category manager of performance apparel, Beth Crowell said on cbc.ca that there is no such thing as a cut proof sock, and that no company would advertise such a thing. Instead he insists that Bauer’s elite performance skate sock offers superior protection to regular cotton socks.
SHOULD EXTRA PROTECTION BE MANDATORY?
The NHL and other professional sports leagues are often hesitant to designate new protective equipment as mandatory. It was not until August 1979 that John Ziegler, then president of the NHL, declared helmets mandatory for all players.
The American Hockey League, the NHL’s minor league affiliate didn’t make protective visors on player’s helmets mandatory until the 2006-2007 season, and the NHL still hasn’t.
Given this history, one may feel that the NHL would be reluctant to adopt a rule requiring the use of protective socks.
However, at youth and amateur levels, a requirement of additional padding is more likely.
USA Hockey, a major youth hockey organization requires all players to wear protective helmets, purchased with an expiration date and the use of an approved face mask.
“Protection against slicing injuries caused by ice skates should be mandatory at the youth levels,” said Oakty Armagan, who has coached various levels of youth hockey.
“Any player at any level who want’s to drastically reduce the risk of injury from ice skates should try this type of protection,” he said.