Montreal-based Sani Sport has managed to make a big impact on the sporting world's injury prevention industry, doing so through the use of their patented machine.
Currently used by twenty seven NHL teams, including the, Sani Sport's machine reduces bacteria that makes sweat-soaked equipment stink, as well as preventing the spread of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. More commonly known as MRSA, this staph infection can have serious consequences if left untreated.
MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics, and generally leads to skin and soft tissue infections. Although historically it was only seen in hospitals amongst the elderly, MRSA has begun to crop up in locker rooms and athletic training facilities around North America. In some rare instances it has even resulted in death.
"MRSA is one of the diseases that you can receive from the bacteria in your equipment as it enters your skin through a cut or abrasion," Sani Sport CEO Steve Silver said. "What we do is get rid of that bacteria and reduce the risk of injury."
The Sani Sport cleansing process is a simple one, the entirety of which takes fifteen minutes. After placing the gear into the machine, ozone and air circulate throughout the chamber. This is then followed by an automated spray which helps protect the equipment and eliminate any residual ozone left behind. No water or chemicals are contained in the treatment.
The machine is able to sanitize one full set of adult gear at a time. Some NHL teams prefer to carry multiple machines; the San Jose Sharks have chosen to use one.
"I've been dealing with Mike Aldrich for years, and they are very happy with the technology. They use the machine all the time," Silver said. "It is an important part of what they do to protect their players."
One of those players is, who has had a history of MRSA infections. Thornton started using Sani Sport while with the , and shortly after being traded to San Jose, the Sharks organization purchased a machine. Thornton missed five games during the 2002-2003 season due to an infected elbow caused by unsanitary pads. He required surgery to clean the area.
Former NHL right winger Mikael Renberg also ran into trouble with MRSA. While playing for thein 2002, Renberg cut his hand tying his skates; the resulting infection nearly required amputation of his arm. Other documented cases amongst NHL players include Darren McCarty, Ed Belfour, and former-Shark Gary Suter.
Sani Sport's emergence into the market has managed to greatly reduce these cases.
Although the NFL, CFL, and United States government have purchased this product, the majority of Sani Sport's sales come in the retail sector. Small business purchase the $10,000-$12,000 machine and charge a fee for it's use, catering to hockey parents who are offended by the smell of their child's gear, as well as those who are concerned about the health issues that can occur.
The company has also made headway into numerous other areas within the hockey community outside of the NHL. Partners include USA Hockey, the American Hockey League, and branches of the juniors system.
Although some may typically think ofor when citing hazards to a player's health, these tiny microbes of bacteria pose a threat as well. Every organization's goal is to keep their assets functioning at the highest level possible throughout the course of the season.
And by reducing the risks associated with MRSA, this machine is helping them to do just that.