Ever wonder why those hockey players look so big on the ice and then when
you see them after the game they turn out to be such thin guys? Maybe this
Shoulder pads do not just cover the shoulders. They look almost like
a jacket and provide torso and spine protection. A flying puck or a
collision with an opposing player is not as painful as a fan might
believe. The pads are made of foam with adjustable chest and side
panels. Some models have abdominal and back protectors which can be
extended for extra protection.
The goalie’s chest and arm protector has thicker padding in front
than a player's shoulder pads. It incorporates the three part elbow
pad and the shoulder pad into one piece. Each new modes of padding
by the leading manufacturers strives to make this piece of equipment
lighter but with better protection and a design which allows for
The elbow pad has three parts to provide freedom of arm movement
while providing protection. There is a reinforced elbow cup with
portions above and below to protect the forearms and triceps in case
of a hit from a puck.
But you don’t see any of this
padding because it is covered by the team jersey.…..unless there is a fight
and a jersey is pulled off.
A hockey player’s gloves are made with thin palms and fingers for
ease of movement but with substantial padding on the back for
protection. The thumb is reinforced to keep it from bending
The goalie wears a blocker on the hand that holds the stick. It has
a square pad on the back which he can use to deflect shots.
On the other hand the goalie wears a catch glove. This glove is used
to either catch flying pucks or to pick the puck up off the ice. The
end of the catch glove extends out beyond the fingers so they will
not be injured when catching a fast flying puck.
Breezers, or as the Canadians call them, hockey pants, are the specially
padded pants worn by all hockey players (and street hockey players). The
first version of this garment was a full length waist to ankle trouser
developed for the 1981-2 hockey season. It was called a “Cooperall” (as
opposed to a coverall, I guess) because it was manufactured by the Cooper
Company. It was not padded but was a shell trouser that covered the padding
worn underneath. It was a failure.
The current, more
successful version is padded, goes up high at the waist and down to the
knee. The breezer is laced up in front and has a belt. The goalie’s breezers
also have suspenders. Fans may observe as the season progresses the inseams
on the breezers of the more active players giving out. We have had a Storm
player, or two, in the early years of the franchise who practically looked
like they were wearing skirts (kilts?) by the time playoffs came around.
According to one source, they
are called “breezers” because the bottom of the legs of the pants are quite
wide, allowing for a fair amount of breeze to blow in when the player is
skating. This source also says that the term “breezer” is used mainly in
Wisconsin and Minnesota, that they are called hockey pants elsewhere. Would
it be because the majority of the Storm players on the first 2-3 teams came
from Minnesota that we call them breezers here?
Women’s breezers are cut a little differently than men’s to allow for the
differences in hip and waist proportions.
The size of a goalie’s leg pads has
been a point of contention for the past 90 years. In 1925-26 the limit on
the width of the pads was set at 12”. Two years later it was changed to 10”
and later to 11". A few years ago the length of the pads was set at a maximum of 38”.
Moving on down from the breezers, the next piece of the hockey
player’s equipment is the shin guard. This piece of equipment covers
the knee cap as well as the shin. It is made of high density foam.
The knee cover may be separate and hinged to the shin guard. Straps
around the back of the leg hold the guard in place. The shin guards
are not seen because they are covered by the socks.
goalie’s leg pads are much more prominent, perhaps the most dominant
part of his equipment. USA Hockey rules regulate the size of the
goalie’s pads. They extend above the knees and the bottom of the pad
covers the top of the skate. The part that extends over the skate is
called the boot and is either flat or pressed into a concave shape.
Like the shin guards, the goalie pads have straps which wrap around
the leg in the back.
The official NHL rules for
2010-2011 relating to goalie equipment states that, “Each goalkeeper must
wear pads that are anatomically proportional and size specific based on the
individual physical characteristics of that goalkeeper.” The rules for length are quite involved but basically depend
on the size of the player.