Michigan-based Skate Fenders continue to grow as option for foot protection

Danny DeKeyser was one of six Red Wings wearing Skate Fenders this season. (Photo by Andrew Knapik/MiHockey)


By @MichaelCaples – 

If you watched their skates closely this season, you would have noticed that the majority of the Red Wings’ defensive corps had extra protection surrounding their feet.

Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson were all wearing foot protection from Skate Fenders, a Michigan-based company that created molded polycarbonate shells for a players’ skates that offer protection from that dreaded slapshot to the side of the foot. Forwards Joakim Andersson and Drew Miller donned the protective equipment, as well.

McClelland said that the Skate Fenders idea was a long time in the works, after watching various attempts at padding to protect one’s feet while he grew up playing the sport himself.

From the Skate Fenders' official website

“I played hockey for a long time, probably more than 50 years,” McClelland said. “Way back when I played midgets, there were these old ankle guard things that guys wore to protect the ankles, and I was kind of looking at making a high-tech version of that, because I didn’t think that the old ones, you could get them custom-made, but they’re not practical.

“I thought I would take a stab at designing a high-tech version of something that would protect the feet. I tested a lot of different materials and plastics, and I ended up with the polycarbonate that we use now, which is actually a form of Lexan. We use two grades, they’ve both proven very reliable, very durable, even at the pro level, the NHL and everywhere down.”

The Skate Fenders were designed with the help of Lake Superior State University’s Product Development Center. Both the PDC’s project managers, along with LSSU engineering students, helped create the mold that produces the Skate Fenders with a focus on protection, followed by it being light weight and easy to put on.

While the use of Skate Fenders may be spreading in the NHL, McClelland is also hoping that players will start wearing his product at an earlier age.

“The sooner the better,” McClelland said. “With the younger players, it’s not so much that they need the protection – although there’s still the chance they can get hit and hurt even down at the Pee Wee ages – but building the habit and getting them comfortable with the idea of foot protection is important, even at the younger ages.

“We’re in the process right now of prototyping and producing a youth version which would fit down to probably a Size 2 skate, we’re hoping it might be available in colors and even a version that would be made out of something other than polycarbonate, and the reason would be to get players used to the idea that foot protection is a good thing to do – a smart thing to do – as they get older and move up through the ranks.”

McClelland said he hopes to increase the viewpoint that Skate Fenders and other foot protection is proactive, not retroactive.

“Originally, when I first kind of threw the idea out at some of the pros, I was given the ‘yeah, they’ll wear them after they’re hurt,’ which is retroactive rather than proactive, where you wear them so you don’t get hurt. That’s changed now. The players that wear them now wear them to be proactive and prevent injury, whereas four years ago, it was still kind of an attitude thing. It still is with some people, but I think the acceptance of the concept is growing, and the acceptance of Skate Fenders as an affordable, viable solution to foot protection is also on the increase.”