Players began to protect their shins from sticks and pucks by using strips of leather or felt, reinforced with thin lengths of cane.Players began to protect their kneecaps with a large square of leather or canvas, reinforced with felt. Knee and shin pads were later attached together to provide increased protection.
Leather gloves were worn less for protection than to keep a player warm from the outdoor elements. Some gloves added thin sticks of bamboo or rattan positioned over the wrist portion to provide extra protection. They also wore gloves that were made from leather and had padding consisting of animal hair and felt.
The first goaltender to wear leg pads was George Merritt of the Winnipeg Victorias in the 1896 Stanley Cup challenge game against Montreal. Merritt strapped on a pair of cricket pads and posted a 2-0 shutout over the Montreal Victorias.
Players began to use elbow pads made from felt. To protect against falling.
Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, a star player in the early part of the century, is said to be one of the first players to protect his shoulders and back from injury. Taylor took some scraps of felt from a harness shop in his hometown of Renfrew, Ontario and sewed them into his undershirt around the shoulders and down the back.