What was supposed to become the new sensation for hockey players has been given the thumbs down by the NHLPA after bad reviews from a few players who had the product on a trial basis.
Of the five players who were sent the heated blades â€“ Toronto's Mark Bell, Chicago's Martin Lapointe, Detroit's Kris Draper, Edmonton's Marty Reasoner and Calgary's Matthew Lombardi â€“ Reasoner is the only player who professed liking the blades.
Reasoner recently told officials with the NHL Players' Association the heated blades "maybe helped me accelerate out of a turn," said a person familiar with the matter.
However, Lapointe said he used the heated blades three times â€“ once during an NHL game â€“ and was unimpressed.
"I wouldn't buy them," he said, adding the battery-powered blades didn't always heat up.
Sam McCoubrey, Vice-President of Therma Blade, was skeptical of the results, as defined by players. "I'm not sure that wearing them twice qualifies Kris Draper to denounce the blades."
McCoubrey said Therma Blade has sold 2,500 pairs of blades to Canadian and U.S. stores. He also said the company would try to persuade other NHLers to test the blades.
This development comes a few months after Wayne Gretzky endorsed the new skates at a press conference for the Canadian company, ThermaBlade Inc.
"There's no doubt that we are seeing the latest advance in the evolution of skating technology and I see Thermablade being popular equipment among NHL players," said Gretzky, who is an investor in the new skate being produced in Quebec. "Thermablades are going to revolutionize the game of hockey. They represent the most significant advance in skate blade design in at least 30 years."
"The NHL is very interested in confirming the data provided by Therma Blade Inc., to establish the safety and reliability of the blade under NHL game conditions, and we have agreed to allow a small group of players to test these blades in games over the next few weeks," said Senior Manager of Hockey Operations Kris King.
"There is a lot of interest among players throughout the NHL right now to see how Thermablade performs under game conditions," said Stu Grimson, Associate Counsel for the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA).
According to the official website of the company, the revolutionary skate is designed for a faster acceleration (especially in your first three strides), tighter turns and increased control.
Thermablade also helps you conserve energy. With Thermablade, starting resistance is reduced up to 75% and gliding resistance is cut by up to 55%. There's also a significant decrease in energy-robbing vibration. What it all means is that, on Thermablade skate blades, you have more energy late in the game, when it often counts most.
The key components that set a Thermablade apart from an ordinary skate blade are a battery and electronics integrated into the heel of the blade holder. These connect to a resistor which heats the blade to 5Â°C. A full charge lasts a minimum of 75 minutes of on-ice time, and recharging the batteries takes just 2 hours.
Time will tell whether other players will take the chance and test the offering, but so far, with the NHLPA against the immediate introduction of the product, its reception has been (dare I say) cold.
Dave Rouleau is a staff writer for the Business of Sports Network, where he covers baseball and hockey on The Biz of Baseball and The Biz of Hockey. He also can be found on Baseball Digest Daily, Inside the Dome (Scout.com), and Seamheads.com. His contact info can be found on the Authors Profiles.