Easton Velocity Series Stick Preview

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

Its that time of year again! Stick release time! It really should be a national holiday. On August 23rd Easton is releasing the new Velocity series of sticks. In a major break from industry conformity, this line will have two flagship sticks, the V9 and V9E. The V9 will feature a traditional square taper on the shaft, while the V9E will continue the Stealth lineage with an elliptical taper, hence the “E” in the name.

Easton V9 Stick BladeA lot of innovative thinking went into this stick line, like with many of Easton’s newest products. Easton sat down and examined the mechanics of effective shooting styles. After looking at some of the best shooters to ever play, they designed a stick built to shoot as effectively as possible.

When they released the Mako II, Easton introduced the idea of Dual Lie blades, originally featuring it on the E28 curve. They have expanded that technology to the E3 and E36 patterns as well. It is designed to in effect create two blades with distinct purposes. The heel of the blade sits flat when the stick is away from the body to catch and make passes, as well as handling the puck. The toe is flat against the ice when the stick is pulled close in a shooting motion.

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Easton Hockey: Invention vs. Improvement Part 2

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

After learning about and using the Mako skates during our demo day, our attention turned to the Mako II stick and more specifically, the idea behind the E28 curve. Easton brought on former NHLer and Olympian Scott Bjugstad and he looked at the way the top shooters were shooting and then he designed a stick for them where the energy loads in the shaft AND in the blade. It is designed for you to shoot off of the two, contrary to what many of us were taught coming up through the hockey ranks. The E28 is designed with a dual lie, one lie from the heel to the midpoint, creating an area to touch the ice when catching passes and handling the puck. The second lie goes out from the midpoint to the toe, with this area designed to be flat on the ice during shots.

Shooting off of the toe has two major benefits. The first is power based off of the puck position. Think of a diving board – the closer to the end you hit to jump, the higher it sends you flying. Shooting a puck works in a similar vein. The second benefit is control. The less the puck moves on the blade as you shoot, the more accurate it is, the more powerful it is and the puck is more likely going to do what you intend and expect it to. Shooting by rolling the puck from your heel is giving away control as you shoot, as well as being a much slower release.

Another great benefit of this curve and stick is that is helps young players learn to shoot. How? The first time any little player has someone on their team able to lift the puck up, they want to do it too, no matter what. This leads to them picking up bad habits just so they can lift the puck, even if it means they are flipping it not actually shooting. With this E28 pattern, if a young player tries that, what will happen is that the puck is pretty much going nowhere, forcing them to shoot the correct way and it improves their shot in general.

A lot of worry with this technique is this: will a blade hold up with this kind of stress on it? Easton designed the stick with this shooting style in mind. Instead of continuing to design the blade from the heel out, they built it from the toe back in. This keeps the toe and the blade in general from softening and it increases the sticks consistency over its life. Time will tell on that part.

Overall, Easton hockey is doing some incredibly innovative stuff, I highly recommend getting out and seeing both the Mako Skates and the Mako II Stick and see for yourself.


Easton Hockey: Invention vs. Improvement Part 1

By Kyle Stevenson

Easton’s new mantra? Invention vs. Improvement. It’s that simple. On March 21, we were lucky enough to get to talk to some of Easton Hockey’s top designers, learn about their new product and then demo it out on the ice. Easton sees a hockey equipment industry that is continually taking the best selling skate or stick and saying, “what can we do to improve it or put our spin on it?” Bucking this trend, the people at Easton went back to the drawing board and built products from the ground up. Invent, don’t just improve.

This strategy is staggeringly simple, but in a way brilliant. They brought in two guys, Dave Cruikshank and Scott Bjugstad, who really know their stuff. Cruickshank is a four-time Olympic speed skater and NHL skating coach. Bjugstad is an eight-year NHL veteran (1984-1992) who played on the 1984 US Olypic hockey team and then with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota North Stars. Easton brought them on board and let them do their thing. Good move.

While most of the industry tried to continue building stiffer and stiffer skates, Cruikshank considered the mechanics of skating and built a skate around that. The goal: build a boot to do what a player needs it to do, as opposed to building a boot and trying to make it do what the company thinks it should. If you look at a particular skate model and see it tending to breakdown a certain way, or in particular spots, it shows that players are trying to naturally do something in it that the skate can’t do. Cruickshank and the design team took the three major aspects of skating – Downforce, Push Direction and Tempo. Then he built a skate around them.

The Mako Skate is designed for more feedback on the ice and better control of your skates. The CNT (Connect) Holder and runner are named for their purpose -  to connect you to the ice. At first blush, even skating on them for a short period, it is clear they do just that. My first question was this – did they widen the steel? The runner itself felt so much more stable than Easton’s previous holder, the RBII. I was assured they hadn’t and it was simply the design that helped to give a hockey player that much more stable feeling.

I’m not going to go into much depth for review – check back soon for that – as I was only on them for a quick skate, but I was amazed at how quick you could get from one edge to the other. The other thing that caught me was how low you can get on these skates when turning. You truly need to get your mind over it and keep pushing it, because you won’t believe it until it happens. You just have to trust the edges and go for it.  I kept trying to turn harder and lower, thinking I was going to slide out, but the skates kept holding up. Its honestly something you don’t believe until you try it.

Easton Mako Skates are available now right here at Pure Hockey. Check back soon for Part II, where we will go through the technology and invention of the Mako 2 stick. In the meantime, here’s a video we did with Neil Wensley, Easton’s Product Manager for skates, that explores the skates a little more detail. Easton is really onto something here.


Easton Mako Hockey Skate Preview

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing
One of the most anticipated hockey skate releases of this year is the Easton Mako skate. The Mako is built from the technology behind the MLX skate, which is now part of Easton through an acquisition. As those who’ve read this blog before know, I’m a big Easton fan and I wear Easton skates. After a couple years of doubt and trials, Easton has taken the extremely customized MLX skate and made it into a viable production model. Easton’s ‘Chief of Speed’ (don’t we all wish we could have a title like that?) Dave Cruikshank designed the MLX skate a few years back when he, as a skating coach, realized he didn’t have the ability to move in a natural, efficient way while wearing a typical hockey skate.


So Cruickshank set off to make the MLX skate, allowing for natural movement in an anatomically designed skate. This idea is the basis for the Mako skate design, giving a new sense of freedom with much less restriction than what you may find in other skates. Basically this is an attempt on Easton’s part to rethink hockey skates instead of continuing the pattern or slippery slope of all the manufacturers competing to just make the stiffest skate imaginable.


As far as features go, the Mako skate is loaded up. Some interesting new things really differentiate the Mako from its competition. The new tongue set-up is a nice, pro style felt tongue with a protective guard, but that’s not really the interesting part. Easton took the tongue and integrated its connection directly into the toe box. This gets rid of any overlap and negative space in the toe box. The tongue itself is also heat moldable, and forms a snugger, more customized fit.


Another great feature is the asymmetric design in the ankle, which allows the skate to fall in line with the direction you’re pushing. This generates power and stability through turns. The Mako makes high-speed cornering much easier, sharper and quicker. The skate also sits on the new CXN holder from Easton and the holder has a very aggressive pitch, working in tandem with the skate’s great range of motion to place you over the front of the skate, without being unbalanced. The pitch creates more downforce into the ice, leading to a more explosive stride and once again more powerful, quicker cornering. The CXN holder is super light and its steel comes stock with a 9 FT radius.


The very flexible Extendon guard promotes a huge range of motion, with very little restriction. The guard itself is actually replaceable with two simple screws. I personaly like this feature. From my time in shops, I saw a good amount of skates come in with a boot in fine shape, but a torn or broken tendon guard. I actually saw this mostly on newer skates with the really stiff guards. Tendon guards – like any other part of the skate – shouldn’t break on their own, but it’s always reassuring that if something happens to one, you don’t need to replace the entire skate. The only potential negative here is that there’s a small crease where the guard meets the rest of the boot (the attachment point) and if you skate barefoot, I see some potential for some abrasion there. But time will tell. It may or may not be an issue – we’ll report back when we test them out.


One of the other much talked about features of the Mako skate is the bake time. The skate is fully heat moldable. I heard someone describe it as the last step before going over to getting a custom skate. This is true. The skate is designed to be an extremely custom fit. It must be heat molded for an unheard of 16 minutes and then you’ll need to sit still in the boots until they are cool. So bring your iPad or a book when you go get these.

 

I think the Mako is really going to be a hit. It feels good right out of the box, and it really, truly feels like a slipper when it’s heated up. Easton has really done a great job with this skate and I highly recommend that you get out and try a pair on. They are well worth the attention they have been getting.