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I play soccer a few times a week already, and sometimes, especially in colder weather, I get a lot of knee and lower leg pain, possibly related to arthritis. I'm wondering if I'll be able to handle skating, since it would involve having my already sensitive joints close to a cold surface.

Skating will probably be easier on your knees and shins -- none of the impact of running and sprinting like soccer. Give it a try; heck, one thing you could do would be to take the kids to a local rink for a public skating session and see how you feel on the skates. Might be a fund thing for you and your friend to do with the kids, and give you a sense of whether you're ready for hockey.

Good luck, and enjoy it!

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