Uptown company reaches the big leagues

A Southwest company has reached the big leagues, literally.

East Isles-based Sports Resource Group recently finalized a contract with the National Hockey League allowing NHL teams to install SRG’s Fusion Safety Pads at their home ice rinks.

Many NHL rinks have minimally padded stanchions where the safety glass ends and the players’ benches begin.

Three years ago, SRG President and East Isles resident Chris Guertin watched as Jack Johnson of the Los Angeles Kings smashed the Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan Smyth into one of those stanchions. The force of the blow resulted in Smyth being immobilized and hauled off the ice on a stretcher.

“The hit got me thinking about (developing the pads), and it was in the back of my mind since then,” Guertin said.

After Guertin finished developing some of SRG’s other products — including snap-together rink barriers, ice rink covers and various types of sports netting — he turned his attention to the Fusion Pads.

The process of receiving NHL approval began last summer when the Fusion Pads debuted at the league’s Research and Development Camp in Toronto. Following months of testing demonstrating that the thick, rectangular pads reduce the risk of being concussed by a stanchion to almost nil, the NHL officially approved Guertin’s brainchild in February, with contract language hammered out in March.

Installation of the Fusion Pads is at the discretion of each NHL franchise. The Montreal Canadians have already placed an order, and Guertin said that about a half-dozen other teams have expressed interest so far.

The Fusion Pads, which are already in use at a handful of community rinks throughout the country, cost about $580 for a full set.

Guertin said that interest in the Fridley-produced Fusion Pads spiked in the wake of NHL approval, with SRG receiving 30 orders during a single day in mid-March.

And while he’s thrilled with all the attention, Guertin said that his motivation for creating Fusion Pads wasn’t just about making money.

“In general, we’re just trying to make the sport safer,” he said.