Clyde Sharpe President of International Sales
Hockey and rubber have similar languages. In ice hockey, checking is a defense technique for gaining possession of the puck or disrupting your opponent’s play. With rubber components, checking refers to short, shallow surface cracks caused by damaging action. If you’ve ever watched a hard-fought hockey game, especially during the NHL playoffs, you’ll appreciate the similarities between these two types of “damaging action”. But even if you’re not a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard about the NHL Lockout. Sadly, there may not be a quest for the Stanley Cup this season.
Here at Elasto Proxy’s headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada, we’re still enjoying our national winter sport. Sure, there’s less chatter about who’s better - John Rye’s Toronto Maple Leafs, my Calgary Flames, or the Montreal Canadiens that Megan Beaulieu and so many members of our production team love. But there are still CHL games to watch and ice hockey leagues in which plenty of people (myself included) participate. During the winter, I skate in two leagues and use my stature to screen goalies, make assists, and score on tip-ins. During the summer, I play in one ice hockey league and one ball hockey league. It’s great exercise, and nice to see your name on a scoreboard at any time of year.
The NHL enjoys competition, too, but the owners and players are locked in a game of high-stakes poker that could cost them more than ticket sales. Unlike soccer, where all you need is a ball, hockey requires expensive equipment like sticks, skates, pads, and helmets. So as the NHL players and owners raise the stakes and stop the season, the biggest loss may be future players. Without role models like Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard, kids may choose other sports – and less expensive ones at that. The NHL is less brutal than it used to be, but the NHL Lockout of 2012 could cause the sport pain for years to come.
As hockey players know, getting hit by a fast-moving puck doesn’t tickle. As Elasto Proxy explains in its Seal Selection Guide, solid rubber profiles are the hardest and most resistant to compression. But some softer elastomers are used in ice hockey, too. Visit a skating rink sometime and look for the rubber profiles between the glass in the boards. Part of their job is to provide vibration resistance. Rubber parts are used in hockey helmets, too. With our water jet cutting capabilities, Elasto Proxy has even custom-fabricated an EVA foam for helmet inserts.
So will there be an NHL season this year? I don’t think so. At this point, the negotiations are as hard as a hockey puck on a cold winter day. Sure, some give-and-take could help end the lockout, but I’ve worked at Elasto Proxy long enough to know that a solid profile doesn’t just turn into a sponge profile. Still, as long as I can play hockey, I know I’ll be all right.