When hockey equipment company Easton was looking to change up their skate designs, they turned to four-time Olympic speed skater Dave Cruikshank, who founded MLX, an which was acquired by Easton in 2011. Cruikshank is now Easton's Chief of Speed and helped design their Mako skate that "gives players the ability to move naturally, generate explosive speed and gain unparalleled feel on the ice."
One NHL player who uses the Mako skates is Sergei Gonchar of the Ottawa Senators. For him, it was an easy switch to the Mako skates, especially since he was personally involved in the process.
"I was working with Dave on this skate since the first model that he built," said Gonchar. "I always felt they're what I needed. Especially now with Easton, when they started making those skate, they were comfortable, they worked for me right away and I had no problems adjusting to them."
We spoke with Gonchar about the Mako skates, the Senators' surprising success and his hockey future. Enjoy.
Q. What is it about these skates that set it apart from any pair you've used in the past?
GONCHAR: The technology they're using. When you heat up the skate, when you put it in the oven, and then you put it on, it really molds on your foot, so you never have blisters or anything like that. I can only wear one before the game starts and I have no problems putting them right on and skating. Second, is they're very protective with the materials they're using. Really good against shots. Third, you have such a quality for the protection, this one is up there with other skates that they are very light.
You've felt a major difference in your skating ability since you've started using this skate?
Yeah. Another thing is the skating ability. I like the way they're built, the angle on the ankle. When I put them on it puts me in a position where I'm very comfortable. For me, personally, it's the right angle and I'm in the right position when I'm ready to push. Since they have the underguard, it gives you extra mobility on your ankle when you're pushing.
How does the process work? Does Easton come to you with new gear to try out or do you tell them you're looking for something new?
The way it happend, I met Dave with the MLX company and he was working on those skates. For me, it was an easy transition because I knew him and what he was working on and the ideas behind it and what he was trying to achieve. So when he told me about how Easton has made the product even better, that was a no-brainer.
What is it about the Senators that they've been able to overcome the rash of injuries this season?
We all recognize the chance to win and have to do the little things right. Follow the system. Do the things we should, otherwise we'll have no chance. Playing the way we've been playing together as a group within our system is what makes us successful. Another thing is our goalies, they've been playing incredible for us. But I think it's a team effort. As a group we're doing a good job by doing things right. It's the only way for us right now with all the guys injured and out of the lineup.
How has Coach MacLean helped keep this team focused?
You want me to tell you all our secrets? [Laughs] The way we're playing we're trying to play well defensively, obviously, trying not to give as many chances to other team and make sure that we're not spending as much time in our zone and controlling the puck when we're getting out of our zone. That's the simple way to describe it.
This is the last year of your contract. Have you given a thought about your future? Would you like to continue playing in the NHL after this year or maybe go back to Russia and play in the KHL?
I'm not looking that far. My main focus is on this season. I definitely want to continue playing, that's for sure. I'm enjoying the game and I've been healthy so far, so I definitely to want to continue playing. I just need time at the end of the season to make up my mind. I think now I have to focus on the game and make sure that we're doing well. Then, at the end of the season, I'm going to sit down and decide what I want to do.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy