For this week’s installment of “This Old Hockey Bag”, I want to look back at one of the most under-rated skate holders to ever hit the game of hockey.
It was 1979, and Wayne Gretzky just finished his rookie year in Edmonton. For the past two seasons, Gretzky had worn Daoust 301 hockey skates with a standard ICM holder and steel. But during the 1979-80 season Daoust had upgraded their holders to a new SLM Perfecta holder: a solid plastic mold, that weighed less than its ICM predecessor.
The Perfecta boasted an increased forward angle to the ice and hard steel. Gretzky used them in the summer of 1979, being one of the first to try them. They provided No. 99 with breakaway speed, sharp turning, and the ability to stop on a dime. He was sold. With the upgraded stainless steel, these were very hard as far as steel goes. Sharpening was a pain but the edge you could get and hold was above any other steel on the market.
There was only one problem — the Perfecta holder had production issues. Many would break on the first shot they faced. The pockets of air inside the holder were only part of the problem. The exposure to UV rays had a weakening affect on the holder, making the plastic very brittle. But Perfecta was soon to solve that. They hit the skate market with a radical look for the time. A painted holder, most memorably, The Great One’s Royal Blue Perfecta’s.
They escalated his superstardom instantly. He was automatically recognizable on the ice, not that many had an issue watching this kid fly around NHL stars like it was a walk in the park. What most people don’t realize is how long he wore these holders for. His first year in LA — after the trade heard round the world — he had black colored Perfectas, even though the much lighter and hollowed TUUK custom had hit the market. Eventually, Gretzky had to make the switch to the TUUK. Many NHL players wore the Perfecta holder during the early 1980’s. It came on multiple skate boots including the CCM Tacks and Dauost 301.
The Perfecta eventually went by the wayside in the following years. Full plastic holders were way too heavy for the late 80’s into the early 90’s, with the innovation of hollow skate holders, such as TUUK. But surprisingly these Perfecta’s led to another iconic skate holder, the Graf Cobra Holder. Used on Graf skates until today, the NT3000 or Cobra holder still holds its own. The angle to the ice and weight distribution has made this legend live on. If you’ve never seen them side-by-side, check the pictures below. You can see the inspiration for the Cobra and where it came from. The legend of the Perfect holder, or Perfecta, lives on.
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