Takin' care of equipment business
Last Updated: April 16, 2009 11:31 AM
Ron Kuipers The Equipment Guy
The last two weeks of April is the perfect time of year to take care of all those little equipment problems that slowly develop over the course of the winter season.
Some of you will find that a simple twist of a screw or the snap of a buckle will be enough to keep your kids' equipment going through the upcoming summer skills clinic or 3-on-3 season.
Others will be forced to head back to EBay or their local sporting goods store to replace equipment damaged beyond repair.
With that in mind, let's find out which category you fall into with this simple, helmet-to-skate equipment review checklist.
A visual inspection of the helmet is the most important place to start. If you find any cracks or deep slices or anything else that makes you wonder if the reliability of the helmet is compromised, replace the helmet with a new one right away.
Take a look at all the snaps and screws on the helmet and facemask as well to make sure nothing is missing and everything is tight.
Up next is the mouth guard. It's had an entire winter of chewing and grinding and there's a good chance it doesn't provide the same protection it did at the beginning of the season. If you have to, toss it and replace it.
Same goes for the neck guard or throat protector. It might need a bit of stitching to keep it together or maybe the Velcro isn't as sticky as it used to be. If your common sense suggests it might not be doing its job anymore, don't hesitate to get a new one.
Moving down the body we find the shoulder pads, elbow pads and the pants, and they seem to be the only pieces of equipment that stand the test of time at the rink. A quick look at the stitching, the straps and the Velcro will tell you if a simple sewing job will keep those pads in the bag for a few more games and practices.
The same can be said for the 'jock' or the 'jill' as well. Having said that, if you didn't get a chance to wash it as often as you should have, it might be time to throw it out no matter how good it looks. That will be a personal call on your part.
Shin guards don't normally wear out or appear too banged up, either. The most common reason for replacing a pair of shin guards is sizing, so once you've determined they're in good enough shape to stay in the bag, take a moment to make sure they still fit your son or daughter.
And that brings us all the way down to the skates. Some of the most common problems include damaged or worn-out blades, broken or missing eyelets/rivets and a toe that is completely shredded.
Your local hockey pro shop or shoe repair shop might be able to take care of some or all of these problems. Sizing, once again, might be more of an issue so before you spend any money on repairs, make sure the skates still fit.
As for the laces, if they're frayed or look a little on the worn side, get some new ones before you head back to the rink.
A lot of us can't wait to leave the equipment bag in the basement for a few weeks before dragging it out for tryouts or some sort of spring or summer hockey extravaganza. But remember, if it's out of sight, it's out of mind and that can create unnecessary panic when you realize something's broken while suiting up in the dressing room a month from now.
So take a moment during the next couple of weeks to perform a season-ending hockey inspection and give yourself a bit of time to repair or replace any damaged or worn-out equipment.