Looking at old films of the hockey greats like the great Gordie Howe or the strong and slick-skating Jean Beliveau, of blessed memory, I swear that these players don't seem as fast as today's superstars. I find this hard to believe as Howe played successfully in four decades and clearly could skate with the kids when he was 51. Maybe what I'm seeing is an optical ilusion based on difference in film technology. But if not, I'm wondering if improved teaching methods for power skating, better padding and head protection, improvements in skate technology, and better training methods make today's average skaters as fast as the fastest in Howe's day. Are there any technical studies using old game films and computer analysis that bear this out?
There is certainly a marked difference between the quality of skates, ice, and equipment that each generation used. It would not be a stretch at all to say that this impacts their ability and speed. Skates and pads are lighter, blades are sharper, and ice is maintained better. These are all factors that could be considered when looking at relative speed in hockey. Additionally, with more research into physical fitness and training techniques, players work their muscles better and train harder. These are all things that would certainly impact the players ability on the ice. It is certainly feasible that the skaters in today's NHL are majorly faster than those in Howe's day.