New CCM Premier: Thinner, Lighter, Faster to Ice
By now goaltenders everywhere have probably seen the new CCM Premier line.
If you missed CCM’s unveiling in the summer, you’ve likely seen the new Premier in the NHL on stars like Roberto Luongo, Corey Crawford, Pekka Rinne, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop, the recently re-signed Cam Talbot, or fast-rising rookie Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Maybe you’ve seen CCM Premier in the AHL instead, on prized young goalies like Montreal Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale or future Jet Eric Comrie, or maybe even in junior or college hockey.
What not all goaltenders have been able to see yet are all the improvements in the new Premier line.
Yes, the graphics are new. Yes, the brand name changed from Reebok to CCM. And yes, the new Premier is still designed and built by the same father-son team of Patrick and Michel Lefevre that changed the game with their first Premier pad. The CCM Premier is also part of an ongoing research collaboration with Western University, blending science with the Lefevre craftsmanship to make improvements in the pads that can be measured with hard numbers as well as feel.
The result is a new Premier pad that is not only thinner and lighter than any previous, but one that moved the weight around with a purpose, matching a shift in the balance point to a new strapping system that the science says gets to the ice faster.
InGoal Magazine has been playing with the new CCM Premier line for a while now, working with our testers to match what the science says to how the gear feels on your leg. We will be rolling out previews like this one over the next two and a half months, outlining all those design changes that goalies everywhere haven’t yet been privy to, explaining the science behind them, and wrapping it all up with a full review when the line officially launches in early April.
Let’s start with the thinner profile and redistributed weight.
Lighter pads have been a trend for a while now, and the CCM Premier certainly achieves that with our 34+2 pad weighing in a half pound lighter than the 34+2 Reebok XLT Premier pad that InGoal tested two years ago. But the more important part may be how they moved the remaining weight around in the pad. First off, the change goalies probably can’t see on TV: The profile at the top of the CCM Premier pad above the knee is notably thinner than it was with the Reebok XLT.
By thinning out and lightening the top of the pad, the balance point shifted down to the boot. It doesn’t take a physics degree to figure out the part of the pad goalies have to move the most as they go up and down in the butterfly is the top, and since the bottom of the pad stays closes to the ice and is lifted the least, it makes sense to have more of the weight distributed there.
“It decreases the effort to recover out of a butterfly if you keep the majority of the mass of the pad closer to the foot,” said Ryan Frayne, a PhD Candidate from Western University who works on the industrial partnership research project between CCM and the school. “You’re not lifting as much mass up as high as you recover back to your feet or lift your knee.”
By re-working their foams, CCM also managed to shift the weight across the face of the pad, moving the balance point slightly from the center to the inside, closer to the bottom of the pad when a goalie is on the ice to help improve stability.
While the thinner profile allowed CCM to redistribute the weight on the new pad, it was important not to do it at the expense of the performance expected from the Premier line. More specifically, the Reebok XLT Premier was designed to produce harder rebounds, giving goalies more time to recover before the next shot. CCM’s designers, having seen other products get more bendable as the top of the pad got thinner, were conscious about not losing that property as they thinned out the top of the Premier. So as they changed the core of their pad, CCM used more HD foams in the new set up, ensuring the CCM Premier would maintain the same stiffness as the XLT, if not even be a little stiffer based on our early testing.
After all, the Premier was never intended to be a flexible pad. That’s why CCM started the E-Flex line.
The Premier pad is designed to be worn looser, to move around the leg rather than being cranked down tight to – and moving with – the leg the way the E-Flex is designed to. Maintaining those distinct properties to suit different goaltending styles was an important part of rebuilding the Premier core, combining a thinner profile and a redistributed balance point without sacrificing the stability and stiffness butterfly goalies have come to rely on from the line for more than a decade now.
There are other changes in the CCM Premier, including the aforementioned changes in the stock strapping system that work with the redistributed weight to get the pad to the ice faster, and a significantly improved knee cradle system as well. Look for those in coming weeks as InGoal continues to test the pad and match how it feels to why it was built this way.
In the meantime, enjoy a few snap shots from our early photo and testing sessions with the CCM Premier.