Getting your skates sharpened: Man vs Machine?

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Man vs Machine

How many of us like getting a freshly cooked meal rather than a boxed microwave dinner? Or listening to a talented musical artist live opposed to some auto-tuned hack. Yeah, me too. But I also like depositing a check without going to the bank and using a GPS to tell me where to go instead of a map. Point being, technology helps us accomplish a task or goal faster and more efficiently. We’ve all needed to adapt to technology at one point or another in our lives and I’m willing to bet you were better off when you did. Hockey players are about to face a fork in the road when it comes to one of the fundamental aspects of the game: getting your skates sharpened.

Every player has their weekly regiment of getting their skates sharpened, probably by the same person for the last few years. We are all searching for the best sharpening you can get in your area and most of us think we have found it. Whether it’s that guy in your local shop that’s been tuning wheels for the last 10 years or your friend in town that has his own Blade Master in his garage. Either way you trust them with YOUR skates, you expect them to give you a quality sharpening so when you step on the ice, it always feels right. Ninety five percent of people get their skates sharpened by someone and you’re probably wondering, who is sharpening the other 5%? The answer is, it’s not a “who,” its an “it.” Within the last few years companies have popped up proposing their new “hands free” sharpening machines. All the years of skill acquired by the folks in your local hockey shop have been put into one machine that does it in half the time. This may be hard to believe and accept but it is reality.

Having a local shop employee sharpen your skates is the standard nowadays. They have a skill they have refined through years of experience and you trust them. It’s an art. But finding someone who does it perfectly every single time is rare. We have people come into our shop all the time that say, “the guy over at ________ did a horrible job,” which begs the question, why are people still going to them for skate sharpening? Part of the answer in our case is because there aren't many options for players to choose from in our area. The other side of it is, they aren’t putting in the time to make sure each pair of skates they tune up is perfect. Every pair is different from the next and should be treated as such. It’s like buying a fitted suit, every element of the jacket and pants is measured and cut accordingly. Anyone that works here doesn’t let a customer leave unless each blade is perfect. The extra few minutes of care go a long way and our players and families come back because of it.

Besides our hyper attention to detail there is one major difference between Zeal and the rest. We use “hands free” machines. And. They. Are. Awesome.

The machines are manufactured by ProSharp and they make, in my opinion, the best skate sharpening machines in the world. The detail and research they put into these machines is second to none. Every measurement required to sharpen a pair of skates accurately is there and can be finely adjusted so that the skater can get the most precise sharpening every time. This is as long as the person operating the machine knows what they’re doing. It’s not like some jagaloon off the streets can give you a good sharpening. So don’t worry shop owners, you’re experience is still necessary.

ProSharp has made a lot of noise in the hockey industry, so much that NHL teams have started adapting to this hands free method of sharpening/profiling. Teams like the Bruins and the Leafs have players skating on ProSharp edges and they are all about it. Not a lot of people have access to an NHL equipment manager handling their skates but because of these machines, you can get damn close.

Zeal Hockey treats every player like a pro when it comes to choosing the right stick. Now that we are THE ONLY SHOP IN RHODE ISLAND that has these machines, we can do the same with their sharpening.

Here’s the thing, people are accustomed to having someone sharpen there skates but times are changing. There is no question these hands free machines are a cut above the rest, and if you haven’t had a chance to use one, you need to. The game of hockey is a beautiful sport and the people who play it deserve the best sharpening. Hands free sharpening will do that time and time again. I stand by it. Zeal stands by it. Professional teams stand by it. And now it’s time for the rest of the industry to adapt because ready or not, hands free sharpening is here to stay.

What do you think?

Leave a comment and let me know if you’re #promachine or #proman