The sharpening, the skates, skating, all of it is extremely important. That’s the foundation of everything. It’s extremely important to figure out the right edge and profile. That will absolutely improve performance. For sure. I always make the comparison that it’s like if you put winter tires on a Ferrari, you can have the best driver in the world driving the best Ferrari in the world, but with winter tires, forget it. You won’t perform. This is our skate sharpening machine, the
Elite S4. It’s an extraordinary machine. In my opinion, it’s the best skate sharpener in the world. The S4 does it all. We can do profiling for players, which is very important. It differs for defensemen and forwards, the way a guy skates, if he leans more forwards or more upright when he skates. We can find the optimal profile for each guy. Then the machine will sharpen skates and it maintains the profiling. That’s extremely important; it keeps the profile. Most players here use a 5/8 sharpening, which is probably the most common edge around the NHL. There are some players who prefer less bite to their edge, so they’ll use 3/4. Some guys like it even less sharp and they’ll use 1/2. We get to know what guys like. To find the right edge, players have to test out a few different ones to see how they feel. It all depends on whether they like them to be sharper or a bit less sharp. The less sharp ones glide more. A guy like KK – – [Jesperi] Kotkaniemi arrived with almost a one-inch edge. The ice is also a factor. It’s really all about the player’s preference. We encourage players to use the least sharp edge possible because over the longterm, really sharp edges aren’t good for a player’s ankles and hips, so we encourage them to use 3/4 or less. Defensemen obviously skate backwards more often and with forwards, it’s more about how they skate, whether they lean forward. We need to find a profile to make them more comfortable on their skates. That’s the most important thing. It’s a bit like the curve on a stick — it’s all about preference. Profiles are the same. Sharpening is the same thing, I use an SES1 [profile] and I usually get my skates sharpened at 9/16. I probably tried about six or seven [profiles]. I didn’t know that there were that many. Just the radius of the blade has changed drastically over the past couple of years. I’m finding new ways to get faster. When I have the right profile, I just feel more comfortable and more grounded with the ice, so I can make those sharper turns and quicker accelerations. That’s why I went with these ones. If you don’t have an edge, you can’t really skate. I’ve just been on a standard 5/8 my entire life and I just kind of stick with that. I know a couple of the guys are a little flatter on their edges, a little closer to an inch, but, for me, I kind of like 5/8. I used a skating instructor this summer and in the summer you don’t really change your steel much. I probably had one sharpen with that steel and I kind of stuck with it all summer. This year when I came back, I talked to Patty [Langlois] and them and I just kind of asked them to replicate what I was using this summer. It kind of gives me a little more forward lean so I can stay on top of the front of my foot. It helps me feel better through turns and crossovers, for sure. You’re not thinking about your balance, you know? You kind of just feel balanced on the ice no matter what edge you’re on. Things kind of just flow smoothly and you can kind of notice when the profile is a little off, you’re picking your toe a little bit sometimes or you’re on your heels or too far forward or something like that. When you have the right one, you’re very centered on your blade. If you can trust your edges out there and you’re not worrying about this and that, you can think about all the other stuff in the game, that’s what you want. You want all your equipment to feel right and natural. Instead of thinking about that equipment,
you’re just thinking about making that next play. When you get to this level that’s the biggest thing for everybody.