Price dumps red pads, back in white

Carey Price with his Vaughn equipment rep Jorg Achenbach last March with the new white pads Price soon would be wearing.
Gazette photo

Carey Price, one of the least superstitious goaltenders you’ll find, has dumped his month-old red pads and is returning to the white ones in which he enjoyed considerably more success.

The new pads, which will feature the CH logo above the knee as it appears on the red pair, are shipping today from the Vaughn factory in London, Ont.

We profiled Price’s graphically redesigned white pads last March in The Gazette; that story appears below. From it:

It’s not a lack of imagination that colours his pads white, save the trim. It’s all about deceiving shooters, who might have trouble distinguishing pads from ice and boards, and with the optical illusion of making himself look huge.

March 18, 2008

Price pads equipment résumé
‘This is a little like Christmas,’ Habs goalie says
as he rips wrapping off his fifth pair of season

The Gazette

They’ve nearly reached the end of their two-month life, shrunken by battle, blackened by pucks, scarred by sticks, slashed by skates.

And yet, Carey Price’s goalie pads didn’t look too shabby yesterday – until they were propped up beside the factory-fresh, graphically redesigned pair he’ll begin to break in today and be wearing in games as early as this weekend.

Then they looked like hell.

"This is a little like Christmas," Price said in the Bell Centre dressing room after morning practice, a hulking, 20-year-old kid eagerly inspecting his new custom-made Vaughn Velocity pads pulled from a duffle bag by Jorg Achenbach, the company’s pro services rep.

"It always seems like Christmas when I get new pads."

The gifts didn’t end there. Price also received three new gloves – two blockers and a practice-model trapper, all customized with extra padding. The lightweight, synthetic pads are virtually identical to the old ones, except for the flashy design on the shin. Gone is a blue and red swirl, replaced by what appears to be two licking-flame M’s.

No matter how the design is interpreted, Price loves the look.

And if you think he’s excited, wait until the minor-, garage-league and semi-pro goalies of the world get wind of it.

On goalie-populated Internet forums and bulletin boards, where all things netminding are rumoured, discussed and debated, Price’s new gear isn’t likely to cause a ripple of interest, but a tsunami.

The graphic scheme is expected to be available at retail stores sometime this summer, at roughly $1,700 for the pads and $500 and $325, respectively, for the trapper and blocker.

The interest among goalies in what’s worn by the top pros, says Achenbach, "is goofy, crazy … Star Wars hype times 10."

At the 2007 All-Star Game, Calgary’s Mikka Kiprusoff wore much-speculated, newly designed Vaughn Velocity pads onto Dallas ice for the morning skate. Twenty minutes later, photos were flying through cyberspace, with goalie-typists crashing the ‘net – harder than a playoff forward – in a rush to offer their online critique.

Price’s new pads have not been similarly anticipated. Even he hadn’t seen them until Achenbach arrived yesterday from the factory in London, Ont.

Vaughn, an industry leader with Reebok in high-performance goaltending equipment, includes Price and the Canadiens’ Jaroslav Halak in its stable.

Price has been with the company since graduating from midget hockey into major junior, viewed then by Vaughn as a fine prospect. A shrewd bet, considering Price’s record-setting 2007 world junior and Calder Cup victories and rocketship ride into the NHL this season.

Achenbach, in hockey for nearly three decades and once a preteen stickboy for the Winnipeg Jets, oversaw Price’s first custom-made pads during the goalie’s 2005 draft year.

Today, Price is a Vaughn-endorsed, contracted player, a goalie on whom the company builds part of its marketing campaign. The "Carey Pad" will be a hit with the impressionable netminders, young and old.

If he’s hard on shooters, Price is brutal on his pads. His new custom hybrid Velocity V2/V3, the NHL-maximum 38 inches long and 11 inches wide, is his fifth pair this season. It’s a consumption borne of his bulky body, style of play and gruelling demands of today’s game.

"I had a growth spurt one year and went through three pairs in a single season," Price recalled. "An expensive year for Dad."

The goalie figures his once-goaltender father, Jerry, spent $15,000 on equipment for his son before he was signed by Vaughn.

"This is the first time I’ve gone through so many pairs," Price said.

He knows when his pads are nearing their end when they "get a little floppy," losing the preferred stiffness he manages with his tremendous hip and length strength. Once in his new pair, he’ll likely autograph his current one for charity auction, with another stored in reserve.

Price is remarkably agile for a man who’s 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, and his equipment reflects his needs.

His "knee stack" is a single block, not horizontal pads as in a retail model, to form a more stable landing pad, and there is additional wraparound protection for his enormous calves.

The blocker has extra finger padding, and his trapper is also reinforced.

The goalie will soften up a new trapper in a high/low-tech way – he’ll lay them beneath a towel atop the medical staff’s hydroculator, a machine used to superheat therapy packs, and let the steam work its magic.

"Five minutes of that and it’s as good as an old baseball mitt," he said.

It’s not a lack of imagination that colours his pads white, save the trim. It’s all about deceiving shooters, who might have trouble distinguishing pads from ice and boards, and with the optical illusion of making himself look huge. It’s stunning to compare the massive Price in his NHL pads with the average-size Price in the black Vaughns he wore at world juniors.

Not that this translates to retail – the recreational goalie has a distaste for puck marks on his pads, a concern not shared by a pro who replaces his often.

"There are goalies who will blame their equipment if they struggle," Achenbach said. "That’s not Carey. He’s very easy to work with, clear about specifications and about what he wants. There’s no confusion."

That attention to detail perfectly describes Price’s overall approach to his job.

And for one very happy goalie yesterday, there was nothing like that new-pad smell.

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