Nashville Predator Equipment Manager Comments on Sharpening and Profiling.
Rogers and Chris Scoppetto, assistant equipment manager, share the sharpening duties on the Predators' staff. They use COMPUTERIZED equipment to determine the proper sharpening for each player, as well as goalies. They don't have the time to sharpen every player's skates every day so they use a rotation.
"We have a game tonight so we'll probably do 75 percent of the players' skates after practice today and maybe four or five guys tomorrow after practice," Rogers said. "That's the easiest way. It gives guys a chance to skate in morning practice on the rink where they'be playing tonight. That gives them the opportunity to say I want them a little sharper or a little duller for the ice in this particular arena.
"Our backup goalie gets his skates done before the morning skate and we do the starting goalie's skates after practice," Rogers said. "That's the biggest change in skate sharpening since I've been in the business. Years ago, the goalies all had a pretty flat hollow. Now, they're a lot more athletic and they're up and down more so they need that deeper hollow just to jump up. Our goalie, Tomas Vokoun, will finish the game with pretty dull skates. When they're going side to side a lot, they have a tendency to hit the post and that dulls the edge pretty quick.
We use an automated system to rocker the skates. It's computerized and we'll do nearly a dozen sharpenings on a blade for a player. It measures how much blade we've taken off and it contours the blade as needed. Sometimes you'll sharpen one blade more than the other because it has a deep nick in it. Over time, the blades are not as even as they should be."
Rogers said custom-sharpening is one of his most important duties. One size definitely DOESN'T fit all.
"When Scott Hartnell came here, he wasn't sure what he wanted and he fell a few times. We watched him skate and EXPIREMENTED with a couple of settings before we found the right one for him. We moved him up on his toes in his skating stance. He was back too far. His skating style has a lot of steps, so he needed a skate and a blade that held up a little better than the average player. He's a good skater, he just needed to be a little more forward on his toes."
How often should you profile?
Many skaters believe that they only need to have their skates profiled (radiused) once, when they are new. This is not correct. Just regular skate sharpening can change your profile over time. This timeframe can be accelerated if your skates are sharpened by an unfamiliar shop or by a skate sharpener with a heavy hand.. We recommend you have your “profile” refreshed every 8-10 weeks depending on how much you are skating, or approx every 8 sharpenings.
Skate Care Tips
Here's a few tips to make your blades and edges last longer:
* Use a plastic skate guard when walking around the rink. Even though you are walking on rubber, that rubber is filled with sand and dirt brought in on shoes. I play a lot of late nite beer league hockey and get to see the rink maintenence folk cleaning the rubber. You would not believe just how much dirt is on the rubber! This dirt and pebbles acts like sandpaper and can quickly wear on your edges. Most adult players go right from the locker room to the ice so wear is not too bad for them, but the little kids are often seen walking around all over. (Once I saw a youngster walk up the bleachers to his mom in the top row. Ouch! Moms, Dads, have the kids wear guards, your sharpenings will last longer. A skate guard costs about what one sharpening does. Well worth the investment.
* Dry your skates well after each skate. Then use a soaker guard to collect any moisture from condensation. When you get home, take the soaker off and air dry the skates. Then put the plastic guards back on for your next trip to the rink.
Rust can really eat away at your blades and your sharpened edges. If you get rust, your sharpener has to grind away excess metal and your blades don't last as long.
Skate Sharpening Pitfalls, did they do it right?
Here's how to tell if your skates have been sharpened properly: First, take a look at the bottom of the blade and observe the "grain" of the sharpening along the length of the hollow. Do the lines run straight along the length of the blade, or are they crooked and run crossways between the edges? Straight lines indicate that the skate was ground correctly. If not, odds are the sharpener’s stone wheel was not dressed or adjusted properly. Many shops save time (and stone replacement costs) by extending the dressing intervals on the stone. We like to redress our stone, every other sharpenings. This ensures a smooth accurate finish on the blade. It costs us more in the long run, but you are assured of a decent sharpening every time.
You must also check for squareness. A skate that is "out of square" has one edge that is higher than the other. During the normal course of skating, it is normal for your edges to wear unevenly. This can lead to a skate turning much more easily in one direction than in the other. A proper sharpening brings them back to square, while refreshing the hollow (edge). Some shops, with a line of folks waiting to get their skates sharpened, will skimp on the number of passes to save time. If your edges were not square before, and the sharpener doesn’t apply the proper number of passes, then it’s possible your edges could still be out of square when he’s done. How the skate is placed in the skate holder can affect squareness as well. A good sharpener will check for square before he returns your skates. Sometimes they skip this when they are rushed. Before we give you your skates, we check each and every blade at several points along the blade with a special squaring check tool. You too can check for square ness by balancing a quarter on top of the blade and visually looking for an offset.
So how do you check for sharpness? Hold the skate upside down with the toe in one hand and the heel in the other, and hold the skate up to a bright light. Pivot the skate toward you in the same fashion that you would turn a thermometer toward you when you are trying to read it. Your skate needs to be re-sharpened if there are any dull spots along the blade. They will show up as little spots and lines of reflected light. This method is superior to, and safer than, the old method of running the back of your fingernail across the blade leaving fingernail shavings on the blade. People who use this rather inaccurate method report injuries about once a month.
Profiling for Younger Players
Younger Players (up to 8 yrs old.
We recommend that younger players start with a profile that will give them a forward lean, i.e., the pitch of the blade has a “toe down” angle of attack (like wearing high-heels). This will unlock the knees and put the player in the proper “hockey” stance with shoulders down over the puck. How the forward pitch helps the younger player is very simple; the downhill pitch virtually forces the skater to keep moving (like trying to stand on a hill with roller blades.) As we observe at the rink, most youngsters will stop and wait for the puck to get to them, rather than skate to meet the puck. This profile will assist to keep them moving, circling. This is exactly what coaches are trying to teach them to do. We also recommend a decreased gliding surface. Since novice players are still learning to maneuver, slightly less blade contact with the ice will help them develop their agility skills. They’ll have a bit less speed, but as they develop their overall skating skills, we can adjust the profile or hollow to add more speed later in their careers. Keep in mind, when you are just learning to skate, speed is not as critical as agility. Even a poor skater can go fast, but add a turn into the equation, and the potential for a fall increases.