Monday, July 09, 2012
Game Time Review: Easton RS Hockey Skate


By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

Having fallen in love with my S-17 skates over the past few years, I get excited whenever Easton is releasing a new skate model. I got to demo the EQ50’s just prior to their release a couple seasons back and I was pretty let down. They were real bulky and not particularly comfortable. This doesn't mean EQ50 skates are bad for you, they just didn't work for me.  So when the RS hockey skates were coming out, I tried to keep my expectations in check a little bit. Having said that, I can tell you that after a couple of game in them, they are my next pair of skates. I knew it after wearing them for about an hour. 

The RS skate impressed me right out of the box. It is a real sleek, sharp looking skate. They were really comfortable as soon as I put them on – and yes, I caught some crap for wearing them around the office the rest of the day, but hey, I was excited and they were that comfortable. 
When I first laced them up for a game, I didn’t tie the top eyelet, mostly out of habit. I do this to allow myself some more forward flex, as I don't like when a skate is so stiff that it restricts my stride going forward. Within minutes of hitting the ice, I could tell there was too much play in the ankle for this. The RS has a lower profile and once I tied it to the top, it was perfect – a great amount of forward flex, combined with excellent lateral stiffness and response. I love a stiff skate and the RS is stiff and responds great on strides.
I’ve been getting high ankle cuts on my last couple pairs of skates from abrasion on tight/hard turns, so Easton’s new comfort edge feature really interests me. I like the idea of that type of protection and it has been a great addition to skates like the TotalOne and TotalOne NXG, even though I haven’t truly been able to test how effective the feature is. 
On the back end of the skate, Easton put in a new injected tendon guard that is very strong and helps your foot to recoil on strides. You can really feel the extra support. On the inside of the skate, Easton added extra foam padding inside the tendon guard for a little extra comfort. Although I am used to a much thicker felt tongue, the RS’s felt tongue is really comfortable and has no signs of lace bite. There is also a little extra padding in the front, in case you take a slapshot  off the laces.
New to the RS skate is Easton’s Giro SuperNatural Fit footbed system. This comes with three sizes of adjustable arch inserts. This is a good idea, but in practice is a little gimmicky, there doesn’t feel like there is a big difference between the smallest and largest inserts.
My main issue with the skates is the Razor Bladz elite runner. The holder itself is great, it is very stiff, responsive and extremely light. The Elite steel runner is the issue, it's just too weak for me. I can feel it give and bow as I make tight turns or hard stops. Remember, though, issues with blades are very personal and subjective - the Elite runners may be just fine for you, this is really a personal thing with me.

Overall the RS skate really really impressed me - I really love it. Barring some ridiculous new unannounced skate being released, the RS will be my next skate.

Have a look and order yourself some right here.

.....and here's my video review:

1 Comments Posted at 08:00AM on 07/09/2012

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Monday, July 02, 2012
Actor/Hockey Fanatic: Michael Vartan Interview

By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Last week we had a quick chat with the Pittsburgh Penguins Pascal Dupuis. The week before it was the first in our recurring series of chats with USHL player Todd Skirving. Today we're throwing a little bit of a curveball at you. 

Michael Vartan is a bigtime Hollywood actor. If you are a male anywhere between the ages of, say, 20-50 years old, you probably watched the show "Alias" because Jennifer Garner used to jump around and look ridiculously sexy while doing so. I will readily admit having a huge crush on her back then. Well, Michael Vartan was the lead actor on Alias, playing Michael Vaughn, Garner's partner and romantic love interest in the mysterious Government entity of ass-kickers. Since Alias, Vaughn hasn't rested on his laurels - he's been on several series, including Big Shots and more recently, playing a doctor on TNT's "Hawthorne." Vartan was also in the GREAT movie Columbiana (if you haven't seen it, SEE IT!).

Vartan is a HUGE hockey fan and a hockey player as well, so we thought it would be interesting to hear from him about his playing background, his love for the game and how an unlikely French-born Hollywood actor found the game of hockey. He promised me that his L.A. Kings would take good care of the Cup before it comes back to Boston next year. I do appreciate that very much. Here he is drinking from the Cup in LA a few weeks ago!

And we're off.....

1. You have an interesting background in terms of where you grew up – fairly non-traditional hockey markets. How did you get interested in hockey? 
I grew up in Normandy, France - not exactly a hockey hot-bed, but i lived about 30 miles from the team (Rouen Dragons) that won the French league 4 years in a row in the '90s, so there was a little interest there and when i moved to the U.S., I became obsessed with the sport. I went to my first Kings game when i was 6, they lost to the NorthStars 5-4 in OT - and that was it....hooked for life!
2. A lot of hockey fans – and particularly players – only pray at the church of hockey. I'm sure you're a FAN of other sports, but do you play any other sports?
I was scouted by a Paris's professional soccer team (PSG) when I was 14, I play a lot of tennis and golf, too. Pretty much anything with a ball, puck or net and i'm in.
3. Here's a strange question – do you ever apply anything you've learned as a hockey player to your job of acting?
One of the greatest things about our sport is the players attitudes. These kids mostly come from small towns, humble families and take the word 'team" to levels far beyond any other sport does. I suppose I try and bring a "team" attitude when I work, understanding we all have a job to do, and no one is more or less important than anyone else.
4. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
When Mike Richards blew up Burrows in the first round… not gonna lie, gave me a little chub.
5. Given we're a gear shop, it's time for a couple of gear questions. What do you currently use for stick, gloves and helmet?
Easton Stealth RS 100 flex (Doughty pro stock), Easton EQ Pro Gloves, Bauer helmet, don't remember the model... it's old.
6. What piece of hockey gear are you most picky about? Or do you just play the game without getting too involved with the specifics of gear?
Stick and skates for sure! I switched from a P91 curve to the curve used by Doughty, I have hands of stone so I need all the help i can get! I like a really flat radius, mine is 13 and I usually get 1/2" hollow or 5/8" in the summer if the ice is softer. I tried the flat bottom V, didn't really feel a difference so just went back to normal.
7. Given you are a public figure, has anyone ever chirped you on the ice about "taking falls" or anything acting related?
Not that I can remember, i'm not really good enough a player or actor for anyone to care!
8. Were you aware of the movie "Goon" or did you try to get involved? 
I saw a preview for "Goon" and immediately wondered why I wasn't up for one of the parts, turns out I was unavailable because I was shooting "Hawthorne" for TNT so I didn't get a crack at it…next time.
9. What's your favorite hockey movie?  
I have two. "Slapshot" of course, for the story and characters, it's a classic! And Miracle, probably the most realistic portrayal of sport i've ever seen. Not sure if it's true or not, but I read that they cast hockey players that could act, as opposed to actors who could play hockey. You apparantly had to have college-level skills to even be considered for the movie. The hockey scenes in that movie are the best, those kids could all really play.

0 Comments Posted at 09:00AM on 07/02/2012

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Monday, July 16, 2012
Preview: RBZ Stick by CCM & TaylorMade


By Jeff Copetas, VP of Marketing & E-Commerce

Way back around late February, we started hearing some rumblings that CCM had plans to release a "revolutionary" stick in the fall and the hockey discussion boards and forums started to buzz with anticipation. Truth be told, we at Pure Hockey sort of shrugged our shoulders with a collective "eh." Why? Because we see this every year. All the vendors start giving us sneak peeks of sticks or whatnot and start telling us about how it's ALL going to change the game. It usually doesn't. Oh, don't let my words lead you to believe that we are non-plussed by everything that comes our way. In fact, getting to look at all the new gear each year still makes us all feel like it's Christmas morning. But the noise the vendors make around each release must be taken with a grain of salt. And we have plenty of grains around here. The proof for us is a) getting to use the stuff and of course b).....does it sell?

So when CCM planted some of the RBZ sticks in the NHL in March (Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins were the first to use it) and also brought it, encased in glass and sticking up from a TaylorMade golf bag,  to the Let's Play Hockey show in Minnesota, once again I felt like it was just another marketing gimmick, albeit a clever one. If nobody can touch it, I thought, it must mean there's something wrong with it!

It wasn't until we went over to Canton, MA to Reebok's headquarters in the late spring to finally get a detailed product overview and actually hold one that I started feeling like this could be an interesting stick.

If you play golf at all, you know that TaylorMade has a pretty intense passion for manufacturing high performing golf equipment. It was obviously no secret that they were working with CCM, but we found out to what degree at our meeting in Canton. It turns out that CCM has entered into a multi-year collaboration with Taylor-Made, aimed at "redefining the hockey stick category with game changing technologies." The RBZ is the first of a series and with this stick, the focus is on what they believe to be the revolutionary SpeedBlade Technology,™ whose purpose is to give you a pronounced increase in velocity with your shot.

In addition to the SpeedBlade tech, CCM & Taylor-Made promise a better weight distribution, which should produce a faster swing for a faster puck speed. There's also what they call a "constant stiffness profile" all the way through the shaft, which will give you a customized kick point for maximum shot loading. This is something we are very interested in seeing when it comes to actual performance. If it's true that there's a customized kick-point and a blade that will increase velocity in the ways CCM is talking about, then we indeed do have something revolutionary here.
The blade is ceertainly the most interesting part here: CCM & TaylorMade are using some of the same principles that power TaylorMade's Rocketballz golf drivers. So what they've done here is completely eliminate the foam from inside the blade, claiming that foam absorbs some of the energy from the puck, which  reduces your velocity.  During our meeting in Canton, they passed around a "standard" blade, cut in half and then the RBZ SpeedBlade, where the foam is basically replaced with hollow chambers. First thing I thought was "how will the puck FEEL on the blade though? Will I be sacrificing a ton of puck feel for some added velocity that I may or may not even notice? Because it's effectively hollow, will it break easier?" The jury is out until we test. CCM assures control and durability will be the same, if not better, than other sticks. See below for CCM's comments on it.
So here's what CCM & TaylorMade have to say about the SpeedBlade: it is a "trampoline effect, which is the measurement used to determine the amount of energy return at the point of impact. This is a new concept to hockey but one that has been used in golf for several years now in order to assess how to maximize the performance of a driver to increase ball speed. The exclusive Speed Channels inside the CCM RBZ SpeedBladeTM are specifically engineered to help enhance the C.O.R to minimize energy loss for a rocket of a shot.

They then provided this Q & A to us, for more information:
What was the involvement of TaylorMade in developing this stick? 
Our relationship with TaylorMade began a few years ago when we started exchanging ideas on shaft technologies. This evolved into joint research on mutually beneficial materials and concepts for hockey sticks and golf drivers. Over the last couple of years, we’ve looked more closely at how we could use some of TaylorMade’s technologies to help improve the performance of our hockey sticks. That’s when we started working with TaylorMade on new technologies such as SpeedBladeTM. 
What does RBZ stand for? 
In golf, RBZ stands for RocketBallzTM, the innovative new TaylorMade golf club that is also the inspiration for the CCM RBZ hockey stick. In hockey, RBZ is the product name. 
Without foam inside the blade, will it be more fragile? 
No. On the contrary. We’ve conducted extensive durability testing on the blade. The three bridges inside the blade actually make it more durable than our normal composite blades. 
Without foam inside the blade, will I feel vibrations? 
No. The speed channels inside the blade are specifically tuned to help provide an insane shot while at the same time providing feel and control. 

Will I shoot harder with this stick?
The CCM RBZ stick, powered by TaylorMade has been engineered to provide insane velocity. NHL rookie sensations Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both noted that the revolutionary SpeedBlade Technology™ was giving them more pop off the blade. Try one to feel the difference. 
Is the kick point low, mid or high?
The CCM RBZ features an all new constant flex profile in the shaft. Essentially that means that wherever you place your lower hand is where it will bend. As such, you’re able to maximize the loading since everything below your lower hand will bend. In a typical stick, the kick point is predetermined in the construction for a specific type of benefit such as a quick release. With the RBZ, you determine the kick-point. 

So there you have it. We have a couple of testers on the way and we will most definitely be bringing it out on the ice very soon - we will provide another Game Time Review and a video very soon on what our initial impressions are of the stick from the place where it's most important - the ice. If you think you have enough info and want to pre-order it, be our guest! Just click right here to pre-order yours now or read more on the patterns below.



1 Comments Posted at 08:00AM on 07/16/2012

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Friday, July 13, 2012
Composite Hockey Stick Weights


By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

Over the course of the past few years, the battle to produce the lightest composite stick has raged on between all the major hockey manufacturers. During this time, companies have all looked for ways to tip the scales – pun intended - in favor of their own sticks. So how is it possible that all the manufacturers produce graphs, pie charts and lists that their sticks are undeniably THE lightest on the market? Somebody is right. Right?
Well, in light of that,  we decided to have our own little weigh-in with some of the top model sticks, using a Dymo Digital Scale. In all, we took 9 top-end sticks, all in the same 85 flex and all in a comparable blade pattern. The attempt was to give our customers an even and fair basis for stick weights. Let me note that stick weights should not, by any means, be your only criteria for choosing a stick. But we DO think this will be helpful piece of info for you. 
So without further ado, here are the results, from lightest to heaviest:
7. Easton Mako 464 g
8. Warrior Dolomite 473 g 
So as no real surprise, the Bauer Vapor APX came in at the top spot as the lightest stick, with the new Nexus 1000 just 1g heavier. Now, just to ease your mind, the difference between #9 at 474 grams and #1 at 420 grams shouldn't really alarm anyone here - in my opinion, only the most discerning could probably pick up a stick and really feel the difference in weight. Still, it's fun and interesting to do these exercises from time-to-time and a lot of people ask us about stick weights, so we think this is helpful.
My biggest surprise was the Sherwood Nexon 12, coming in 3rd - and only four grams heavier than the APX! With a price tag of only $189.99, the Nexon 12 is a great, light stick for the money. I wonder if Sher-Wood was mad when Bauer launched Nexus, given Sher-Wood has had the Nexon sticks out for a good while now? Hmmmm.

1 Comments Posted at 08:00AM on 07/13/2012

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Thursday, July 26, 2012
Skate Weigh in


Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

So a couple of weeks back, we posted a list of some stick weights on high-end composite sticks and we got a really great response, so we are going to continue this over the next few weeks in some different product categories. Today we start with skates in the price range of $599.99 and up (other price ranges will follow).
NOTE: this is not necessarily a list of THE top lightest skates available; not every model is listed, but we feel this is a good representation of what is present on the market. Secondly, weight should not be your only criteria for purchasing a pair of skates! It is definitely a factor in a multi-step process of determining what is best for you. But it's not the only thing you should be thinking about!
Weights were measured of a single skate, size 7.5D. So, what you see listed below is the skate model, the weight of a single skate in grams and then that weight doubled to represent the pair.
1) Bauer TotalOne NXG                         ----680g   ------1360g   ---------- $799.99
2) Bauer Vapor APX                                ----718g   ------1436g   ---------- $799.99
3) Bauer Supreme One.9                      ----746g   ------1492g   ---------- $599.99
4) Bauer Vapor X7.0                               ----805g   ------1610g   ---------- $599.99
5) CCM U+ CL                                         ----830g   ------1660g   ---------- $599.99
6) Reebok 20K                                        ----833g   ------1666g   ---------- $799.99
7) Reebok 18K                                        ----834g   ------1668g   ---------- $599.99
8) Easton RS                                           ----843g   ------1686g   ---------- $599.99
9) Bauer Nexus 800                               ----890g   ------1780g   ---------- $599.99
So there you have it! The Bauer TotalOne NXG's  top the list and the Supreme and Vapor lines follow close behind. Bauer has the top 4 slots! Let us know what you think and what else you would like to see compared in the comments section below, on the our Facebook page and also at our Twitter page.



0 Comments Posted at 12:00AM on 07/26/2012

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