Associated Press Exclusive: New skate blade for off-ice training unveiled


In nearly two decades of coaching NHL players, Kelly Riou has tried just about everything to help them replicate the unnatural motion of skating when they’re off the ice.

He thinks he’s now found it, with the help of a retired quarterback and drone engineer, and hopes it will revolutionize the way hockey players of all levels train in the gym. His company Alien Kinetics introduced DriBlades and its accompanying weighted slide on Monday following development and testing involving a handful of NHL players who work with Riou.

“It’s been on my mind to bridge the gap to allow guys to train and give strength and skating coaches a little bit more precise tool for this crazy locomotion of skating,” Riou told The Associated Press. “Because of the demands of the game, this should have come before me, honestly, because BOSU balls, unstable surfaces, other measures that we use to try to facilitate or help the player develop, weren’t close enough. .”

Players take out the regular blades and can replace them with DriBlades for weightlifting and other solid ground workouts. Stanley Cup champion Chandler Stephenson, already one of the best skaters in the league, has tried them out, along with his current Vegas Golden Knights teammate Brayden McNabb, the Seattle Kraken’s Kole Lind and Lane Pederson. of the San Jose Sharks. He was excited about the benefits.

“Everything I’ve done before that’s ‘hockey-related’ has been on the ice, so to have something off the ice where you can break down even more, to work on every inch of your blades, has been great,” Stephenson said. . . “It’s like having a hockey practice field. It has been crazy to feel the toes, the heels, the whole sole of the foot. This has made me better because it makes you feel more grounded.”

The metal skid insert and Abductor slide, which former QB Jason Johnson and co-founder called “a dumbbell for your feet,” was developed with the help of inventor and entrepreneur Zenon Dragan, known for developing drone technology and having one of theirs presented at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Riou said it helps players move their legs on and off the ice like skating better than using a towel or something else to provide resistance.

Recognizing how difficult it is to move work from the gym to the ice, McNabb said he got hooked on using the DriBlades.

“All those little muscles that you can’t get to unless you’re on ice, you can target,” McNabb said. “After stepping on the ice, I noticed an immediate difference.”

Johnson, who played at the University of Arizona and then three seasons in the Canadian Football League, said the most common responses from those who tried the blades were: “Why didn’t we have this 20 years ago?” and “Why haven’t I always been using this?”

“We want this to be just another part of a hockey player’s bag,” Johnson said. “I think the fact that you can pull out your ice blade now and put a DriBlade in 10 seconds and train with it is a huge plus.”

Riou, who has been training NHL players and others since 2003 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, said he thought it was a good middle ground between treadmill skating and ice skating.

“What were we doing before?” he said. “Here you are in your shoes and then you go to the ice and see if you are better. That was all before. That’s crazy when you understand the physics of skating. This thing really gives you an opportunity.”


Follow Associated Press hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at


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