DKM Hockey Podcast

Monday, May 28, 2012

Inside the Dressing Room: Hockey Pants

The "Inside the Dressing Room" is a series dedicated to the players equipment used in the NHL.  We offer some interesting perspective most folks in Columbus, OH might never get.  Superfans in Canada, and probably the .00000001 percenters in Columbus might know this stuff, but common fan, here you are.

The NHL has some silly rules and regulations about the equipment players wear and how they wear it.  The NHL is trying to do two things with it's silly rules:  Protect the players and protect the integrity of the game.

NASCAR race gear has less sponsorship and adverstising than Yakof Smirnoff  and his 'hurt your eyes' yellow sweater.

One of the little known equipment rules in the NHL is the use of trademark logos on the equipment.  Helmets, Pants, and Jerseys are only allowed to bear one visible trademark logo per piece of equipment.  Hockey gloves are allowed to display two. This sort of protects the integrity of the NHL. The NHL bans all sponsorship logos from equipment, save one item: The practice jersey.  The NHL is toying with the idea of allowing one sponsorship logo on the game jerseys.  I am against this personally, as "Bob's Discount Tire" has no place on an NHL jersey, no matter how big a sponsor they are.  The NHL needs to be careful, too.  Toyota doesn't want it's sales hurt the next time James Wisniewski gets suspened for targeting a head, or worse yet, performs an encore of his 'Slurp, Slurp' taunt to Sean Avery.

The sponsorship logo would have been right next to Hossa's face in this shot.  Concussion, brought to you by Sid's Carpet Barn.

Logos, trademarks, and slurping noises aside - NHL equipment is something special to it's own. 
Each piece of equipment is subject to NHL rules and regulations, most aren't in the NHL rulebook.  The equipment is even constructed in a manner that is unique to the NHL.  Let's take a look at a pair of hockey pants from the Columbus Blue Jacket's dressing room

These pants are to NHL Specs: One visible trademark logo.  Notice, the 'RBK' logo is embroidered into the pant leg in Blue Jackets Silver to match the uniform colors.  A nice touch by the team to spruce up the uniforms a bit.  The right leg of the Blue Jackets pants used to feature Stinger.  While once novel, it is now thankfully gone.

An embroidered NHL shield is required on pants and jerseys issued in the NHL.

Most pants in the NHL are of 2-piece construction. Not all, but most. The lower part is essentially a pair of shorts, or a shell, with interior pockets containing thick thigh pads.  The second piece is like a giant belt that has the kidney, hip, and tailbone pads connected.  This second piece buttons into the lower shell to complete the hockey pant.  Most hockey pants you can buy at the store are are one piece pants without this versatility.  Not all players wear this type of pant, but it is the most common.
This lower shell has several button holes to accommodate different types of hip pads.
The NHL requires that all players wear a jersey that is 'tied down' at all times.  What is that and how do you do that?  Well, all jerseys are required to have a fight strap, and that fight strap is 99.99% of the time tied down (really, snapped and velcroed) to the hockey pants.  All pro issued pants will have a sewn-on band or loop where the fight strap can be affixed.

CCM/Reebok provide a more traditional loop for the fight strap.  Bauer/Nike integrate it horizontally into the belt system.
And here is a picture of a fight strap from an inside-out practice jersey attached to the "tie down.'

One of the more unique features has appeared on retail hockey pants for a while now:  Leg Zippers.  The leg zippers allows the pant legs to be opened wider to accommodate putting on your pants while wearing skates.  A player can put on jocks, skates, shinguards and socks all before putting on their pants.  Lacing up skates and taping up shinguards is encumbering while wearing hockey pants.  More so if you have a beer gut.

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Hopefully this gives you a little insight into a piece of equipment worn by the pros.  Oh, and one other thing.  Professionally issued equipment in the NHL is made in Canada.  Remember, if someone says it's "Straight from the lookerroom" it had better say "Made in Canada" on it.  Unless it's a pair of Jofa shin guards or elbow pads, then it should say "Made in Sweden."  Pants, jerseys, socks, gloves = made in Canada.

Fabrique au Canada

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