I last played pro hockey during the 2008-2009 season, and had only started seeing some real safety innovations over the last year or two of my playing days. Kevlar socks were just starting to surface, and some players (hi) were wearing slash guards (as an oft-chopped offensive player, they were a godsend), and some others were starting to wear extra caps on their skates to make shot blocking less painful.
Steps were just generally being taken to prevent the loss of games due to injuries.
Well last night a Twitter conversation with @RedditCBJ, @PhotogBlake and @JoshSmith29 led me to something I hadn’t seen before: an additional pad added to gloves to protect your paw when you’re blocking shots. The image you see above is a zoomed-in shot from @PhotoBlake, who took that picture of Columbus defenseman Cody Goloubef’s glove last night. The picture below is Derek Stepan, who also uses it (as a number of Rangers apparently do).
In a nutshell, players shoot the puck harder than ever, as Marc Staal unfortunately learned last night. The better you can protect yourself, the more effective you can remain in-game, while ensuring that you actually remain in-the-games.