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Do soft(er) skates have merit in this age of goaltending?


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Hello all,

I recently got back on the ice after about 9 months of inactivity (high ankle sprain, strained/sprained plantar fascia, bye-bye college season!) and came across some lightly used Graf G7500's on the net, and having heard so many good things about that particular model and decided to see what they were all about. I had been using the DM1080s for around four years now, and like them quite a bit. 

Upon receiving the G7500's, I noticed that they were significantly softer than the DM1080 in the quarter panel, which I thought was interesting (obviously newer models tend to be stiffer for several reasons). I got them on the ice this week and it felt like I had more ankle mobility and had a better feeling of what the skate was doing (impossible to quantify, I know).

So my question to the members of this fine board is; Do you think the trend towards very stiff skates has been beneficial for how you play, and is there a threshold where a skate boot becomes too stiff? All I recall ever hearing about with skate boots was that stiffer was always better. I know there is an argument to be made for power transfer (that can be quantified with hard data). Another thing I had been pondering recently was whether the fact that stiffer boots that transferred more power to the ice were harder on a goaltender's hips. Think about it like race vehicle suspensions. Unlike OE parts for road cars, suspension bushings that are designed to absorb vibrations and the like are replaced with spherical bearings that do not deflect when a force is applied. This works for race vehicles because tracks usually do not have large bumps or uneven pavement. If we take the same vehicle and drive it in an area that is full of bumps and potholes, the alignment settings will no longer be within spec and you'll probably bend a $1500 wheel or two. Do the same thing with a road car that retains the OE rubber bushings and none of this will happen, but it will not feel as direct and may not deliver the same performance. Could the same principle be a contributing factor in hip injuries amongst those in this trade?

 Obviously one would wear what was most comfortable, but I wanted to hear what others thought about this topic, and thank you for listening (reading) to my TED talk 😎.

 

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I'd have a hard time going back honestly. I'm currently in the CCM Tacks Pro (2018) and they've been hands down my favourite skate. 

I've previously used:

CCM Ribcor 44K
Bauer Total Ones (3 skates) 
RBK 3k
Bauer skates I can't remember the model of.

I honestly thought I was going to be in my 44K's forever, but the inner lining had worn down and I was forced to upgrade. I really did enjoy the comfort that a softer boot brought and it felt like the right mix between support and give. 

After breaking in my Tacks, I don't think I could ever go back to a soft boot. The support, feel, control, power, etc that comes with a hard boot has made movements more, for a lack of a better word: structured. 

I feel more precise in my pushes, stops, and carves that I feel has been a benefit to my skating.  

And you know what? They're actually more comfortable. I'm sure that has more to do with the support and how I've been missing the top eyelet when tying them up for the past while. 

 

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I think there will be a divergence between soft skates and stiff skates. We already see Bauer doing this with the Pro versus Konekt skate. See my review of the Konekt, but I always missed the flex that I got from my Bauer One100s when I was a kid. After that skate, skates by Bauer got so stiff and while they still worked for me, I missed the tiny amount of flex that the One 100s gave me. I am now finding that feeling with the Konekts. The flex will decrease support so you will have to be more mindful of where your feet are in relation to your legs. I am no D1 athlete, but I do play ACHA D2 hockey and have some fitness that lets me utilize the flex of the skate without compromising my balance. It will be interesting to see what NHLers stay in these skates. These are the top athletes and I wonder if they see more performance benefits from flex over the support and efficiency that stiff skates provide. I would love to eventually go back to a traditional skate (probably a custom True) and see the differences that I find between a stiff skate and the Bauer Konekt. However, I am in love with Konekts and feel the transition back would be difficult.

Edited by TrojanGoalie
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6 hours ago, coopaloop1234 said:

I'd have a hard time going back honestly. I'm currently in the CCM Tacks Pro (2018) and they've been hands down my favourite skate. 

I've previously used:

CCM Ribcor 44K
Bauer Total Ones (3 skates) 
RBK 3k
Bauer skates I can't remember the model of.

I honestly thought I was going to be in my 44K's forever, but the inner lining had worn down and I was forced to upgrade. I really did enjoy the comfort that a softer boot brought and it felt like the right mix between support and give. 

After breaking in my Tacks, I don't think I could ever go back to a soft boot. The support, feel, control, power, etc that comes with a hard boot has made movements more, for a lack of a better word: structured. 

I feel more precise in my pushes, stops, and carves that I feel has been a benefit to my skating.  

And you know what? They're actually more comfortable. I'm sure that has more to do with the support and how I've been missing the top eyelet when tying them up for the past while. 

 

Thanks for the detailed reply. I still have an old pair of some 2005 ccm super tacks that I started out on back in my middle school days. Those were probably the softest skates I had been in to date, and oh my goodness were they (too) soft. I don't know how I played in them, haha. I think it is reasonable to conclude that more support will facilitate more precise movements and control. 

4 hours ago, TrojanGoalie said:

I think there will be a divergence between soft skates and stiff skates. We already see Bauer doing this with the Pro versus Konekt skate. See my review of the Konekt, but I always missed the flex that I got from my Bauer One100s when I was a kid. After that skate, skates by Bauer got so stiff and while they still worked for me, I missed the tiny amount of flex that the One 100s gave me. I am now finding that feeling with the Konekts. The flex will decrease support so you will have to be more mindful of where your feet are in relation to your legs. I am no D1 athlete, but I do play ACHA D2 hockey and have some fitness that lets me utilize the flex of the skate without compromising my balance. It will be interesting to see what NHLers stay in these skates. These are the top athletes and I wonder if they see more performance benefits from flex over the support and efficiency that stiff skates provide. I would love to eventually go back to a traditional skate (probably a custom True) and see the differences that I find between a stiff skate and the Bauer Konekt. However, I am in love with Konekts and feel the transition back would be difficult.

Lots of good insight. The konekt seems to be the natural progression of a conventional boot that permits fore and aft flexibility in the ankle, but none (or, significantly less) on the lateral axis. I have some snowboard hardboots that work the same way, so it's really neat to see a similar concept be adapted to goaltending. Boots that have a little compliance are my favorite, as I find that they allow me to better control movements and permit more mobility.

It's about time we got more ACHA goalies up in here! 

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Like everything, I think it can depend on the goalie. 

At the Pro ranks, I harder skates are here to stay. The added benefits are well proven and no doubt is needed at the highest level. 

For us beer leaguers, anything goes. Wear what you like and can help you perform.

Edited by creasecollector
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49 minutes ago, creasecollector said:

Like everything, I think it can depend on the goalie. 

At the Pro ranks, I harder skates are here to stay. The added benefits are well proven and no doubt is needed at the highest level. 

For us beer leaguers, anything goes. Wear what you like and can help you perform.

Fair appraisal. At the end of the day, they outperform them in every quantifiable metric. What I was trying to figure out was whether we might reach a point where they become too stiff and manufacturers have to dial it back. I've had teammates who were very strong skaters (forwards, defensemen) who felt some models of boots were so stiff that they couldn't skate properly in them, and had to revert back to something that was a touch more compliant. It's sort of like fairly recent resurgence of leg pads being advertised with increased flex at the boot break. 

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For the traditionalists, softer (leather boots) is better, but you need strong ankles and good balance to feel comfortable with the extra flex involved.

I do find that skates have gotten ridiculously stiff, and that might be just me. I get the need for a unified fit with the lower leg to amplify your pushes and low low stance stability, but there is a lack of give that can only justify why the Konekt was developed. Maybe eventually we will go back, at best within a good medium between side support and frontal give in ALL models of the future.

My 700X have served me ok but NOTHING felt as slipper like as my Bauer 3000 I wore at 18. Heavier, clunky cowling but oh so comfortable.

@bildeer The 1080 is the high end model, right? Have you tried the 1050? I think it's a leather boot. I wouldn't mind giving them a test run.

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21 hours ago, RichMan said:

For the traditionalists, softer (leather boots) is better, but you need strong ankles and good balance to feel comfortable with the extra flex involved.

I do find that skates have gotten ridiculously stiff, and that might be just me. I get the need for a unified fit with the lower leg to amplify your pushes and low low stance stability, but there is a lack of give that can only justify why the Konekt was developed. Maybe eventually we will go back, at best within a good medium between side support and frontal give in ALL models of the future.

My 700X have served me ok but NOTHING felt as slipper like as my Bauer 3000 I wore at 18. Heavier, clunky cowling but oh so comfortable.

@bildeer The 1080 is the high end model, right? Have you tried the 1050? I think it's a leather boot. I wouldn't mind giving them a test run.

Yes, the 1080 was the top end model. While it was the stiffest of the lineup, it's still much less stiff than a lot of the newer stuff like the True boots and pretty much everything else these days. I got to handle a pair (of Trues) a couple years ago and could not believe how rigid those things were, haha. 

I have yet to try the 1050, but I think I am going to give the newly acquired G7500's some more testing, as they aren't that different than the 1080's aside from being a little more compliant. Your previous statement about requiring more ankle strength was the first thing I noticed jumping onto the ice, but the flexibility that it permitted was something I found to be very useful. 

If I ever come across a pair of old supremes from years past, I'll probably give them a try just for the heck of it. 

Edited by bildeer
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