Therma Blade a no go despite Gretzky's approval

SUN MEDIA NEWS SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Wayne Gretzky boasted during a packed press conference at the Hockey Hall of Fame four months ago that $400 heated skate blades developed by a Canadian company would "revolutionize the game of hockey."

He called it "the most significant advance in skate blade design in at least 30 years."

Trouble is, most of the NHL players who have tested Therma Blade Inc.'s heated blades since their October, 2007 debut don't agree with Gretzky, who is also one of the company's owners.

Of the five players who were sent the heated blades -- Toronto's Mark Bell, Chicago's Martin Lapointe, Detroit's Kris Draper, Edmonton's Marty Reasoner and Calgary's Matthew Lombardi -- Reasoner is the only player who professed liking them.

Reasoner recently told officials with the NHL Players' Association the heated blades "maybe helped me accelerate out of a turn," a person familiar with the matter told the Toronto Star.

However, Lapointe said he used the heated blades three times -- once during an NHL game -- and was unimpressed.

"I wouldn't buy them," he said, adding the battery-powered blades didn't always heat up.

"For me ... these just didn't make a difference."

Draper tried the heated blades twice in practice and said he "just didn't notice a difference."

Calgarian Tory Weber invented the heated blades and spent more than $5 million over five years to bring them to market.

He contacted Gretzky in 2004.

"I could immediately feel a difference in my skating," Gretzky said.

While Therma Blade received approvals from the NHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey months ago, the poor reviews from Draper and Lapointe have prompted the NHL's union to balk at signing off on the fledgling product.

CLEMENS'S WIFE INJECTED?

It's become a daily routine: A new element of Brian McNamee's "I injected Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone" story emerges -- and Clemens's lawyers call the pitcher's former personal trainer a liar.

The latest, and quite possibly oddest, twist involves Clemens's wife.

McNamee told congressional investigators he injected Debbie Clemens with HGH -- at the seven-time Cy Young Award winner's direction -- before the couple posed for a 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition photo shoot, a lawyer familiar with his testimony said yesterday.

The lawyer spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of Thursday's testimony have not been publicly released. McNamee's statements about Debbie Clemens were first reported by the New York Daily News on its website yesterday.

Roger Clemens and McNamee are scheduled to testify publicly Wednesday at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. McNamee told baseball investigator George Mitchell that he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and HGH in 1998, 2000 and 2001, allegations the star pitcher repeatedly has denied.

BOWMAN OVERDOSED

Former national figure skating champion Christopher Bowman died from a drug overdose and an enlarged heart, the coroner said yesterday.

The 40-year-old Bowman was found dead inside a motel room in the city's North Hills neighbourhood on Jan. 10.

The two-time champion's blood-alcohol level was 0.12 per cent, said chief coroner's investigator Craig Harvey, and toxicology tests also revealed cocaine, Valium and marijuana.

Also present was the prescription medicine Seroquel, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, Harvey said.

The report said the death was accidental.

McNULTY CHIPS INTO LEAD

Mark McNulty holed an 86-foot chip for eagle on the par-5 18th for a 6-under 66 and a share of the first-round lead with Jerry Pate yesterday in the Champions Tour's Allianz Championship.

"It's always a big bonus to finish like that," McNulty said. "You're trying to put it in birdie range . . . then on 18, whammo!

He had five birdies and a bogey on the Old Course at Broken Sound.

"All in all, I was very happy," McNulty said. "I'm starting to look like Mark McNulty, not Mark Palooka."

Pate, coming off a victory two weeks ago in Hawaii, birdied the first two holes, but slowed with a three-putt bogey on the third hole. He missed an 8-foot birdie attempt on the 18th moments after McNulty's eagle.

"I'm striking the ball well and I'm confident in my putting," Pate said. "That's a good combination."

He missed only one green in regulation.

COYOTES ADD TOUGHNESS

Left-winger Pete Vandermeer, who hasn't scored a goal and has been in 10 fights in 21 AHL games with the San Antonio Rampage this season, has been signed to an NHL contract by the Phoenix Coyotes.

Vandermeer, 32, from Caroline, has never played an NHL game. The next Coyotes game is Sunday against the visiting Nashville Predators.

Vandermeer has 210 penalty minutes this season and is fifth all-time in the American Hockey League with 2,374.

He has led his team in penalty minutes in seven of 11 pro seasons since leaving the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels.

The six-foot, 209-pound forward is the oldest of six hockey playing brothers. Jim Vandermeer is a defenceman with the Philadelphia Flyers.

BIG UPSET

Thomas Scoffin and Yukon upset Ontario 8-5 at the Canadian junior curling championship yesterday, dropping Travis Fanset's rink to 9-3 after Draw 17.

Idle Quebec, scheduled to play Yukon later, leads at 9-2.

In other Draw 17 action, Saskatchewan improved to 8-3 with a 10-3 win over the Northwest Territories, while Newfoundland defeated New Brunswick 9-6 and Northern Ontario got past Manitoba 8-5.

Earlier yesterday, in Draw 16, Ontario edged B.C. 9-8, while Quebec's William Dion got past Alberta 7-5., P.E.I. defeated New Brunswick 7-2 and Nova Scotia doubled the Northwest Territories 8-4.

On the women's side, Kaitlyn Lawes and first-place Manitoba improved its record to 10-1 with a 10-8 victory over Northern Ontario, Saskatchewan routed the Northwest Territories 14-4, Newfoundland squeaked past New Brunswick 9-8 and Ontario kept Yukon winless with a 9-3 decision.

Earlier, Danielle Parsons and her Nova Scotia rink blasted the Northwest Territories 8-2,


Videos

Photos