What’s that old saying about making lemonade from lemons?
For every problem, there’s a solution, and for NHL players left without ice to skate on by the outbreak of COVID-19, the Marsblade is proving to be the dream answer to what could’ve been a nightmare outcome.
“It’s been crazy,” admitted professional skating coach Tracy Tutton. “We had come so far with so many of the prospects. I work with several NHL teams and then I’ve got all the minor players, guys that are going into the draft.
“It’s been a crazy time, not only keeping them focused on how far they’ve come and where they’re moving forward to but even just keeping them in the right headspace when they’re isolated and they’re not really allowed to do too much.”
For players used to being on the ice whenever they desired, the Marsblade and its patented flow motion technology, has proven to be the answer to their prayers.
At least this gives them the opportunity to get out. They are used to being on skates every day, so this is awesome.
“I had never tried the Marsblade but I’d heard about them,” Tutton admitted. She spoke with former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, a Marsblade user, to gain some insight into how closely the rollerblade could mimic the ice skating stride of a hockey player.
Tutton tried them, and instantly was a convert.
“They’re probably the most similar I’ve felt with rollerblades to ice skates,” she said. “I have a lot of defenseman who are NHL players who have been using them, and they couldn’t get over how similar the backwards skating felt when they were turning forward to backward.
“Every single one of them sent me a message saying, ‘Oh my God, this is a godsend.’”
Marsblade inventor and former pro hockey player Per Mars came up with the concept while he was sidelined with a back injury and unable to get on the ice.
“Traditional inlines were not an option for me since the feel of skating on them was not at all like ice skating,” Mars said. “I felt that it ruined my skating technique rather than it helped me.
“I then came up with the idea to place the rounded shape of the hockey blade between the shoe and the wheels to simulate the imbalance and movement that is created with the hockey blade.”
As the weight shifts in the skate, the upper part rolls over the lower surface following the skater’s movement pattern, which both lengthens the stride and increases freedom of movement.
It’s the combination of these two key characteristics that enables faster turns and higher speeds.
Mars helped Tutton outfit all of her pupils with his product. The players were able to get the Marsblade roller put on their skate boot, to maximize how close it would feel to being on their own skates.
“Honestly I can’t thank the Marsblade company enough,” Tutton said. “I’m hoping that when we do finally get ice, they don’t feel like they’ve done nothing for the last three months.”
Mars, a 2001 draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, always believed he’d developed a product that would revolutionize skating. It took a pandemic to show everyone he was right but as another old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
“Right now it’s been explosive in both sales and interest from NHL players,” Mars said. “We actually set up a couple of whole NHL teams. It’s pretty crazy.
“With all the rinks being closed now, it’s what’s happening.”
Connor McDavid, Evgeni Malkin and Auston Matthews are among the numerous NHL stars who’ve become Marsblade converts.
“It’s challenging for everyone of course but we’re happy to be able to provide support with our product,” Mars said. “A lot of the coaches and the players are really happy that we have our product to give them the ability to train in a proper way without ice.
“I think a lot of coaches and players are now discovering the benefits of it. Even when things go back to what they were, when they get back to having some ice in the summer sometime, I think a lot of coaches and players will take advantage of the roller going forward. It’s a springboard for us to have a lot of people discovering it.”
Mars also has an ice skating version of the Marsblade. So far, Kronwall is the only player to wear the Marsblade in an NHL game.
“Everyone that tries it, loves it and becomes an ambassador, creating word of mouth,” Mars said. “It’s certainly a huge boost in knowledge of the product and the brand.
“We see that with pro players and coaches, they try the roller and they like it, and then they ask about the ice holder.
“It certainly creates a lot of credibility for our company and our product.”