Goalie Skates and Michal Neuvirth’s Foot Injury

Once upon a time, goalie pads weren’t the stream-lined, thin, lightweight pieces of technology they are today. They were heavy and thick and designed in a very specific way. If you look at goalie pads from the 50’s and 60’s through the early 2000’s, they all followed pretty much the same basic form: horizontal rolls across the knee area, vertical rolls along the shins, raised rolls along the outside edges of the pad and a cute little opening in the front for the toe of the skate to stick out of. And let me tell you, nothing stung more than taking a hard shot through that opening and onto the toe or lower instep of the skate.

Until the advent of the modern butterfly style of goaltending, most goalies dropped directly down into the face of their pads or made kick or skate saves to cover low ground. As such, goalie skates were also designed in a very specific way: enlarged, padded toe caps and a plastic pad along the inside arch of the skate for protection and lower ankle rise and a shorter skate blade housing to help stop pucks.

With the exception of Marty Brodeur, all NHL goalies use a modern butterfly-style pad: nearly flat front surface, loads of padding on the inside of the knee and calf and a lower blocking surface that completely covers the toe of the skate. Goalies these days drop down onto their inner knee and leave the pad surface facing up and towards the shooter to maximize blocking area. But while the areas of vulnerability on a goaltender have changed, the design of the goalie skate remains largely the same. Sure, they’re more lightweight, but the bulk of the padding is still along the toe and inside arch area of the skate.

Which brings us to Michel Neuvirth, out with a bruised foot Generally, the heel and outer side of the skate looks (and is padded) largely like a regular players skate. From the look of things, Neuvy is wearing a Nike/Bauer Vapor XX (or similar) skate from a few years ago which is quite light and very stiff but not exactly well-padded in its non-goalie reinforced areas. Usually, when you hear about a modern goalie incurring a foot injury, it means the goalie took a puck to one of these minimally-protected areas and probably didn’t see the shot (otherwise they’d have gotten a different part of their padding on it). So Caps players with hard shots, please make sure you can see Neuvy’s eyes before you let one rip in practice.

I’m looking at you Schultzy.