[Ed note: As part of our disclosure policy, we would like to make our readers aware that in return for reviewing the MLX skates, we were allowed to keep the skate we tried out.]
We at Japers' Rink were recently presented with a (thus far) unique opportunity to take get our hands on a new piece of equipment, try it out, and share our impressions with our readers. That equipment is a pair of skates from the fledgling MLX skates company, which already counts Sergei Gonchar and Dustin Byfuglien as users and Mario Lemieux as an investor. In our first ever hockey skates review, we'll be taking a pair out and letting you know what we think.
The man behind MLX is Dave Cruikshank, a former U.S. Olympic speed skater who became a skating coach after his own athletic career ended, and who has served as the skating coach for the Chicago Blackhawks. As Cruikshank became more involved with hockey, he was surprised at the quality - or lack thereof - of hockey skates, even at the professional level. Whereas speed skates were crafted for the individual skater, hockey skate manufacturers seemed to have adopted a "one size fits all" mentality, expecting players to conform to the way their skate was made, rather than the skate being built or calibrated for the individual player.
This manifested itself in two ways: comfort and performance. Players trying to wedge their feet in led to lace bites and sore feet; skates designed for players who skated upright and on the backs of their feet being worn by players with lower, forward-leaning stances were losing performance. Any anyone who had wide feet was basically forced to endure fifteen minutes of pain every time they stepped on the ice (trust me).
With MLX, Cruikshank and colleague Scott Van Horne have tried to address these concerns by making a more customizable skate. The boot is designed to be more moldable than others, giving the wearer more comfort and allowing for better range of motion and more efficient movement. The skate's blade is also adjustable, designed to lead to a better transfer of energy and more powerful stride.
As you might imagine, the MLX skates come with a pretty hefty price tag - $799, to be specific. But are the worth it? Are they truly as innovative as their developers claim? Over the course of the next several weeks, I'll be trying the skates out in an effort to find out. Be sure to check back to see what I think.