Blackburn to play with two blockers
Dan Blackburn, the former Rangers goalie who has been out with a severe shoulder injury for the past year and a half, has joined the ECHL's Victoria Salmon Kings. Due to his shoulder problem, Blackburn will be the first goalie to play without a glove, and instead will use two blockers:
Blackburn's shoulder problem is no longer considered an injury, but what he calls a "permanent disability" that limits movement in his left arm, so he will be playing with a new blocker-glove on his glove hand.I've got a call into the team office — more info as it comes.
The blocker-glove received approval by the National Hockey League a couple of weeks ago and is styled like a regular blocker with a glove underneath.
Blackburn said the new piece of equipment looks just like a regular blocker, only with a glove where the soft palm (to hold a stick) would normally be. The glove will be used to catch dump-ins and freeze the puck, but the front side will be identical to a blocker.
Blackburn got the NHL's approval for it a couple of weeks ago.
"My shoulder is basically a permanent disability," he said. "It's not going to get better, so I'm basically working around it with this glove. The injury caused me to lose a muscle in my shoulder and the muscle that I lost is the one that would be the outward rotation for my glove-hand, but sometimes holding a blocker, the way you hold your arm is different, so it's a different muscle and it's like I'm not injured."
UPDATE Blackburn has yet to sign a contract with Victoria, but will do so sometime later this week. He should be starting a game this weekend sometime. The Salmon Kings are going to have to drop one of their goaltenders to make room for Blackburn, which is an unfortunate situation, given no one knows how well he can play at this point. From those I've talked to so far, people are very tentative about saying how well he will be able to play.
One has to think that opponents will shoot where his apparent weakness is, and without a catching hand, you'd have to think Blackburn will be giving up more rebounds than a regular tender. Even still, he was a very talented kid coming out of junior and is still just 21 years old, so here's hoping he can make a miraculous comeback a la Bryan Berard.