Last season, I cant recall a single player wearing them regularly. This year, shot blockers are all the rage amongst the Sharks.
Everybody should wear them, Douglas Murray told me. You dont want to miss games if you dont have to.
They are plastic shields which essentially wrap around a skate boot, adding an extra layer of protection. Brent Burns and Colin White are two players credited with introducing the relatively new piece of equipment to a Sharks dressing room which adopted them quickly...and for good reason.
I broke my foot earlier this year, broke my foot last year, and two years before that, Dan Boyle recalled. I just kind of had enough. Being a defenseman you kind of get it a little bit more. Theyve helped a lot, and you can barely tell they are there, which is the most important thing.
Blocking shots is a prime responsibility for defensemen, specifically those on the penalty kill.
Teams, coaches, and teammates are demanding guys be in the shooting lane a lot more now than guys were years ago, said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. Players understand that, and they sacrifice to do it. More and more of them are realizing they are in a susceptible place to an injury, and they're putting them on.
Its definitely saved me from discomfort, that's for sure, says Murray. It brings the courage up too, for a lot of guys, to get in front of shots.
Logan Couture is one of the rare players who tried shot blockers, and decided to stop wearing them.
I did like them, Couture admitted. It's just more mental, than anything. I blocked a couple shots with them and didnt even feel it. So it's probably stupid that I took them off, but more mental.
Even still, some Shark players say, they will never again go into a game situation without protection on their feet...in very much the same way that visors became popular around the NHL, years ago.
At first it looks funny, said Boyle. Looks like it's going to be heavy and bother you. But you try it at practice, try in a game, and Im going to be wearing them from here on out. Theyve helped me on a few occasions blocking shots.
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