If you’ve been in the Kings’ locker room — and believe me, based on the smell, you’re fortunate that you’re not — it’s very easy to notice the latest change to the players’ hockey gear. A handful of players have started wearing a bright yellow sock — underneath their regular hockey sock — which is made from Kevlar and is resistant to cuts.
It’s a wise move, given the number of cuts that have taken place — due to players being stepped on or slashed — in the last couple years. Last year, you might remember the injury Brad Richardson had during practice, an injury that would have been avoided with this type of sock. To see what the sock looks like, and what it does, check the link below, and I also talked to Kings head equipment manager Darren Granger and Terry Murray about the new socks, which the Kings have been wearing for approximately 10 days.
Question: How many players are wearing the new socks? Is it an optional thing for them?
GRANGER: “Obviously, it’s their decision about what they want to do. I think we have five right now. We had one player that was pretty exposed, where he was vulnerable to be cut, so he was sort of the reason it got started. That and, obviously, the injuries around the league. It’s been something that we’ve been trying to find for a couple years now, and now we’ve finally got a couple companies making them.”
Question: What does the sock do for them? It prevents them from being cut, right?
GRANGER: “The yellow part that you see is Kevlar, which is cut-resistant. Obviously if it’s punctured, like a stabbing motion, it’s going to go right through it. But what we’re trying to do is reduce the slashing of the skate, or like Cam Ward’s injury, where somebody slides into you, that type of thing. The one company I’m dealing with is also going to make a hockey sock. Unfortunately, we can’t wear them because they’re not Reebok, but mostly the reason I’ve been getting them is for the goalies, because they’re so exposed on the leg.
“Our goalies aren’t exposed like Cam Ward, because they wear padding on their knees. Ward didn’t wear padding on his knees. Mostly the reason I was trying to get them was for the backs of their legs. This is all so new. I’ve been talking with Vancouver’s equipment guy, and he’s trying to find stuff with Bieksa and other players on that team.”
Here’s what Murray said about the new equipment…
MURRAY: “I have had this conversation many times over the years. This is a very serious kind of injury that happens around the game today, with these skate cuts. Richie had it last year. We saw a game on TV last year with Montreal, Lang got stepped on. But this goes way back to my days at Washington, as an assistant coach. Rod Langway got stepped on during a playoff game against the New Jersey Devils and severed his Achilles tendon.
“The next year, at training camp, this fan shows up on the first day of training camp. He’s got a full hockey sock made of Kevlar. He had a hunting knife, a great big blade, about a 10-inch blade. He said, `Here, cut this sock.’ You couldn’t. The only difference was the weight of it, compared to the sock the players wear. I said to the fan, `If this could ever become a lighter weight, I’m sure it would be very easy to convince the players to wear something like this.’ So that’s going back into the early 80s, mid 80s. Then I saw this sock — (Kings trainer) Chris Kingsley brought it into me a couple weeks ago and showed me this Kevlar sock — and then the wrist sock that speed skaters wear. It should be a popular item.”
To illustrate the point, Murray pointed to the large pictures of Wayne Gretzky and Dave Taylor that fill the wall outside the Kings’ locker room in El Segundo…
MURRAY: “You can see how, in my day, like Gretzky has the tape over the Achilles. Well now, most guys are like Taylor. He doesn’t do it. So any time you take a stride, you’re exposing your Achilles. That’s what the guard is for, to protect the back of your leg. So the sock, to me, is a tremendous idea. I hope everybody starts to wear them.”
I suggested to Murray that, a) he should have patented that sock in the 80s, and b) he might not want to encourage fans to show up with knives…