Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Reebok Premier 4 Goalie Gear - Preview
By: Bill Notartomaso
Web | Marketing Assistant & Goalie Specialist
It is opportunities like this that really defines why I consider myself to be one of the lucky few that absolutely love their job. I walk to my desk and I am surprised when sitting there is a beautiful new set of the Reebok Premier 4 Leg Pads, Glove and Blocker. With my only instruction simply being “go to town” I do just that. Like the passionate goalie enthusiast I am, I spend most my morning just taking everything in. Needless to say, Christmas Day has nothing on this.
With nearly a quarter of NHL goalies currently wearing at least one piece of the new Reebok P4 gear, Reebok has proven pro performance. This model line has quickly been regarded as Reebok’s greatest and most discussed lines Reebok has made to date. With this anticipation though, come the rumblings of concern that Reebok and Lefebvre has just re-skinned the P3 model pad with new graphics. This is most definitely is NOT the case! Reebok’s main focus with the Premier 4 line was creating maximum goal coverage, and they accomplished this with great success!
At first sight, the Reebok Premier 4 Leg Pads have a very clean appearance. The graphics are a definitely a progressive evolution from prior models, and in my opinion, the best yet. Even the simplest customization to the color-ways is a sick combination. The styling will certainly lend itself to the ultimate custom graphic for your individual preferences.
After thoroughly inspecting the make-up of the pad I got to a deep appreciation for the amount of upgrades Reebok has introduced with the P4 line. Straps have been eliminated and new upgrades of removable straps and outside knee protection are further customizable options at the retail level. Like most goalies, when I first grabbed the pad I immediately flexed it and took note if it’s weight. This isn’t the lightest pad I’ve ever felt, but is clearly lighter than its predecessors. The new Flex Core feature at the boot break improves overall flexibility, even on a pad with no breaks at the knee. This feature should attract a lot more interest from goalies that have been wearing pads with a soft boot, but want a pad that stands a bit taller. The Reebok Premier 4 pad has a traditional Lefevbre boot break angle-- until flexed -- but then goes right back to its un-flexed shape.
Some of you might be thinking, “What is this new Flex Core option?” Well, this feature is designed to help relieve the annoyance of “bottoming out” when digging your edge in during a t-push or push-off in the butterfly. For goalies with a wider stance, the Flex Core along with the new Quick Release knee feature will help cut down the 5-hole area in your stance. This provides a solid combination of maneuverability and coverage.
The new Quick Release feature and improvement are night and day compared to the Premier 3 model line. At the retail level, one of the common complaints was the knee lock and landing area in general. The knock on previous models was that it was too stiff and didn’t accommodate large knee pads. This year, the Premier 4 pads are far from that. The entire leg channel is much softer, and the knee is clearly wider and more open. The leg and knee channel is completely lined with a new material for added comfort and easier pad rotation.
Continuing with the maximum coverage theme that Reebok was going for; they also have introduced the Max Coverage feature on the knee landing area. From my perspective, this was probably the biggest and best addition of them all. The Max Coverage feature is designed to create a stiffer and longer area for the knee to land on, but within the NHL equipment guidelines. Still adhering to NHL regulations, Lefevbre has increased the width of the landing block to even out the two separate pads, and enable the pad to sit more balanced on the ice. This provides additional support and avoids any over-rotation with moving around in the butterfly. Let me tell you, I noticed it right off the bat. When I put the pads down; they just wanted to sit perpendicular on the ground. The knee straps have too been re-routed through the knee block to reduce friction with the ice and snow build-up for more effortless movement while down on the ice. At the knee lock; the elastic has been doubled up for added support. The knee lock also offers a second attachment point for the elastic knee lock strap on the calf wrap; The second attachment point for the knee lock allows the goalie’s knee to shift to the outside of the knee area, and somewhat “shrink” the 5-hole as well as get the pad to the ice quicker by reducing the distance it has to fall.
The other upgraded feature of the Premier 4 Leg Pad is the Solid Seal calf design. This feature, like the Max Coverage feature maintains the coverage the length of the pad. The Solid Seal keeps the inside edge of the calf wrap flat and flush to the ice. This will help maintain stability and coverage while in the butterfly position. One of the other significant upgrades I noticed and really liked was the outside calf wrap, which is set inside the pad a bit. The idea behind this is to help with post integration when the play is behind the net. On the other hand (no pun intended) The Premier 4 Glove and Blocker have little to no change-- why mess with something that isn’t broken? The Reebok gloves and blockers have been one of the most popular pairs of gloves in the game since Lefevbre’s Koho days. All of the P3 options are still available on the P4 models.
Reebok has really stepped up the custom options from the P3/Revoke Pro Zone line. You can make take custom options to the max and get your dream set of gear or still be able to get a P3 type pad with a P4 graphic! Even though the retail Reebok P4 line will be made in China, with only pro/top junior and college goalies receiving gear made in Quebec. The same materials will be used as the previous Lefevbre-made P3 line; all of Lefevbre's raw materials come from China. Patrick Lefevbre has spent much time in China training and overlooking the build process. Jonathan Bernier and a few other NHL goalies are even wearing Chinese-made P4 gear. Despite all the customization options, Reebok is also trying to up the ante by maintaining an 8-week custom time at all times of the year!
Be sure to check out the Reebok Premier 4 gear at all of our Pure Goalie retail locations and online starting early Spring of 2012! Be sure to check out our video preview as well!
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