Is old sports protective gear better than brand new just because you are used to it? Is having a broken in pair of shoulder pads better than having the latest technology built into your protective gear. We've seen in the last 3-5 years an incredible amount of innovation in the quality and level of protection that manufacturers of sports pads and protective equipment have been developing.
When you look at the materials developed by innovators like Zoombang, McDavid, Shock Doctor and T-Pro we'd take innovation, increased protection, lighter weight, better fit over some ratty equipment that probably has lost much of it's original padding. With millions of dollars on the line for these professional athletes I'm surprised they aren't going for the best gear they can get. Maybe part of it is superstition? Then again many top athletes are using these new technologies. Ladanian Tomlinson and Mark Bulger use Zoombang and Dwane Wade and many other NBA players are using McDavid's Hexpad shorts and shirts.
Here is the article that got us to address this topic.
TAMPA - Among the players in the Lightning dressing room, Marty St. Louis is known as the most superstitious.
But St. Louis says luck has nothing to do with why he keeps the torn assembly of fabric, padding, plastic and Velcro that make up his shoulder pads.
They are one of a kind. The blue mesh exterior is fraying off. The white padding is exposed by a tear across the bottom of the left pad. Ten years of sweat gives the fabric a shiny hue.
Finland's Koho brand, since bought by big-money retailer Reebok, hasn't been producing nongoalie equipment for three years, so even if St. Louis had the inclination to get a new pair, he would have a tough time.
"Maybe you could get them on eBay," St. Louis said, joking.
Hockey players have a tough time giving up on helmets, shin guards and other equipment, but there's something about the feel and comfort of worn shoulder pads that makes them special.
"I've had mine since I was 16," said center Brad Richards, 27. "They're going to stay with me. They're not going anywhere. I don't know if it's weird, but I can change skates 100 times a year, gloves, all that stuff, but my shoulder pads, if I didn't have those, I'd be lost forever."
Much like someone having a worn-in baseball glove or a favorite pair of sneakers, some hockey players don't want to let go of their favorite equipment, no matter how ratty it becomes.
Some players are the same way with other equipment.
Chris Gratton has used the same helmet since his first year in the NHL in 1993-94, gluing the protective foam into his helmet when it falls out on a monthly basis.
But shoulder pads are the one item that players universally hesitate to replace. As they get older, they get better. The padding molds itself to fit the player. And any wear and tear can be fixed with some stitching in the equipment room.
"I'll probably never get a new pair," St. Louis said. "I will renovate them. They get banged up. You need to restitch them. It's like an old pair of slippers. When you get a new one, they're not as cozy."
Lightning head equipment manager Ray Th