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Hockey School
The Skate

What they are: A durable boot with a blade underneath. Once made entirely of leather, the boots are now a blend of many materials, including clarino, a water-resistant leather, nylon and graphite. The blade is stainless steel and is protected by a plastic holder.

Why are they sharpened?: Blades wear thin after, more or less, five sessions. Sharpened skates allow for better cuts and stops on the ice and in turn, less slippage.

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What the future holds: Ankle protection. The front of the ankle is often left open to injury from straight-on shots. Some players, Toronto's Brian Leetch among them, are now using an ankle guard that is attached after the boot is fastened and laces tied. The drawback is that it creates extra weight on the foot.

The lingo: Skates are also known, around the rinks, as blades. Larger sizes are known as boats.

Did you know?: Many of the manufacturers like CCM and Bauer originate in Canada. However, Nike added an American flavor to things in the mid-1990s when it bought out a legendary yet struggling Canadian equipment company, Cooper. Nike attracted some big names for its promotions, Anaheim's Sergei Fedorov for instance, and jazzed up the traditional black look with white tones and stripes. But they struggled at the checkout line. Skaters found Nike's products were heavy and of poor construction.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan
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