When to Replace Hockey Skate Blades
Your hockey skate blades or runners should be kept sharp, smooth, and free of rust, burrs, and pitting, and with the right hollow (the concave semi-circle on the bottom of the runner that makes contact with the ice surface) to maximize skating performance based on conditions. But after lots of sharpening, the steel wears down and you'll eventually need to change the blades or runners. This is fairly routine care for your ice-hockey skates—like getting new tires on a car.
You'll know when to change the runners primarily by feel. Your skating will feel soft and wobbly and you won't turn as crisply, stop as quickly, or accelerate as cleanly as you're used to. Don't worry, it's not you—it's your skates. Or, more accurately, it's your skates telling you the runners need to be replaced.
You can visually inspect the blades to determine whether the steel is pitted or has burrs, and whether you have enough steel left for sharpening. Maybe the blades are dull and that's the problem; get them sharpened! Nothing affects skating performance more than dull blades. If you determine that the steel is worn down or banged up, opt for replacement runners in the right thickness to fit the holder of your skates, with the blade profile that fits your skating style.
You can buy new runners here. Take the new runners and skates to the hockey retailer where you'd usually sharpen your skates—they can do the replacement for you. For DIYers: take the foot bed out of the skate, remove the plastic cap that covers the nut holding the runner in place, use a tool to remove the nut, remove the old runner and carefully insert the new one, and then fasten it in place with the nut.
Once you're good to go, consider protecting the edges of your skate blades using cloth blade soakers, blade covers, or hockey-skate guards.