As he dresses for hockey practice at the Akinsdale/Kinex Arenas on Wednesday, bantam player Justin Roy rolls up his socks.
But they’re not just any socks, they’re cut-resistant socks containing Kevlar. The socks have a strong synthetic fibre to protect the calf, Achilles heel, ankle and top of the foot from injury.
Some players and coaches are strong proponents of the socks, since several NHL players have been sidelined by leg injuries caused by skate blades.
Last February Ottawa Senators’ defenceman Erik Karlsson had his Achilles tendon severed during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last week Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames avoided a serious injury to his Achilles tendon when he was stepped on during a game against the New York Rangers. He thanked his Kevlar sock for saving his foot.
At St. Albert’s Source for Sports store, owner David Ridd sees a spike in sales of Kevlar socks every time a high-profile player gets cut by a skate blade to the leg.
“Last year when the Ottawa defenceman got hurt we sold a ton. Start of this season, very slow again,” Ridd said, adding the store normally sells one or two pairs per month compared to 20 pairs after Karlsson was injured.
Sock users are typically players who play at a competitive level, said Ridd. But he questions why they aren’t more popular with minor hockey players since accidents do happen.
His store started carrying Bauer and BodyArmour Kevlar socks three years ago.
“Even back then we thought it would (become) a hockey staple like a neck guard, but that hasn’t happened.”
Ridd said a pair of Kevlar socks can last two or three seasons.
Geoff Giacobbo, co-ordinator for the Greater St. Albert Sports Academy, also hopes the Kevlar sock trend will catch on.
“I think (cut-resistant socks) are a safety precaution for any player to have. If you can prevent an injury, it makes sense,” he said.
Giacobbo noted skate blade injuries to the leg are not common, but he has seen them happen before in players as young as peewee.
He recommends them for his own players.
“To put their children in a situation that’s safer, most parents are going to take that information and do what’s best for their kid.”
Kevlar socks are not a required piece of equipment for hockey players. Hockey Canada is currently evaluating them and looking into recommending them for use, said Jimmy Adams, communications co-ordinator with Hockey Alberta.
As for Justin Roy, his parents bought him the socks, which run from $30 to $40 a pair. He wears them every game and every practice and said they feel just like regular hockey socks.
“I like them,” he said. “They’re good socks.”