Players will have the EDGE in 2006-07
DALLAS -- The air was peppered with "lution" talk Monday as the NHL entered into the evolution of uniforms that should produce revolutionary results.
The NHL and Reebok are partnering to create a technologically advanced uniform system that is designed to meet the demands of NHL players.
The Rbk EDGE Uniform System will debut at the 2007 NHL All-Star SuperSkills and All-Star Game (Jan. 23 and 24, 8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) and be worn by all NHL players, beginning with the start of the 2007-08 NHL season in October.
Player input has been important in the development of the Rbk Edge Uniform Systems. Sidney Crosby, who endorses Reebok equipment, made several suggestions which were incorporated in the design, as did officials from the NHLPA.
"I used the pants all summer," Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby said. "I'm pretty picky about my equipment, so I'm probably a good one to test it on. The jersey is a lot lighter and tighter, but it moves with you. Hey, it's a new era for the NHL, it may as well be for the uniform too."
The Rbk EDGE Uniform System was developed after nearly three years of study and development with the accent being on performance and player protection.
Two of Reebok's moisture management systems have been incorporated into the EDGE system to make the uniform lighter. PlayDry technology was used to move moisture and quicken evaporation. Reebok then added Bead Away, a water-repellency system to get rid of water from sweat, water bottles and the ice.
"It had to be about improving performance on the ice," Reebok's Matt O'Toole, the company's president and CEO of Reebok-CCM Hockey. "We believed we could make the uniform better. Over the years, the biggest change was the move from woolen sweaters to synthetic materials. And the jerseys got bigger as the players looked for a wider range of motion.
"We've applied technology from other sports to help improve the hockey uniform."
The result will be seen more in terms of performance than appearance. While the jersey is smaller than those presently in use, the look hasn't been changed radically. In other words, players aren't going to look like Spiderman, as some feared.
"This is evolution, not revolution," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It took three years to get this right."
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The new uniforms utilize four unique fabrics which keep players lighter, drier and better protected while maintaining durability. Stretch mesh provides ventilation and greater range of motion. 4Way Stretch Pique employs Rbk's Bead Away water-repellent technology. X-trafil provides durability. A stretch fabric in the collar features Reebok's PlayDry moisture-wicking technology to maximize comfort and breathability.
PlayDry's wicking capability and Bead Away's water repellency combine to reduce NHL sweater weight by 14 percent while wicking 76 percent more moisture away from the body. Players stay warmer, drier and fresher while avoiding the energy-draining effect of wearing a wet sweater at freezing temperatures.
The Eastern Conference version of the Rbk EDGE uniforms.
X-trafil makes the sweaters twice as durable as the current sweater being worn by NHL players.
Reebok used the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct wind tunnel tests on the new uniform design and Central Michigan's test labs to conduct heat mapping of the new design to see how much cooler the new design would be.
"We had hundreds different versions of uniforms," O'Toole said. "The uniform is 14 percent lighter, 25 percent lighter after games. There is nine percent less drag and it is 10 percent cooler. Plus, there is 60 percent more hip protection."
While much focus has been paid to the jersey, the Rbk EDGE Uniform System is just that, a system. Considerable attention has been paid to the body core, with a pad system for the hips and thighs that figures to provide considerable more protection to NHL players.
"The biggest thing is it's lighter and doesn't absorb water," New York Islanders forward Jason Blake said. "I like that it's tighter around the legs. It feels good to me."
"I especially like the idea that I'm going to be faster," Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom joked. "I'm glad the players had input into the process. They created a great product. It gives and stretches on different parts of the body."
"The bad thing is it's all advantageous for them to move," Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco joked. "That's the downside for the goalies."
"Water weight and it's cooler," Turco continued. "The way we hydrate, it's great to get the water off the equipment."
The EDGE System promises a world of change for hockey, with players better protected and outfitted to better show off their skills in terms of speed and range of motio