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.