Equipment: STICKS - Buying Guide and Advice PART 3

Discussion in 'The Rink' started by Jarick, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    I wrote these articles to answer a lot of common questions I saw and to bookmark my thoughts on the matter. Read through these and feel free to ask any questions!

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    Choosing a Hockey Stick
    I. Introduction and Handedness
    II. Materials and Construction
    III. Size and Length
    IV. Flex and Kickpoint
    V. Curve and Lie
    VI. Taping and Customization
    VII. Additional Thoughts

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    High End Sticks

    When we say "get a clearance high end stick", we're talking about these. Please note that not all sticks are refreshed every year, so if you don't see a family of sticks in a particular year, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's not available. For example, Bauer's 2018 lineup features the new Nexus 2N and a 2018 version of the Vapor 1X Lite, but the 2017 version of the Supreme 1S is still 'current'.

    I've tried to give an approximate kickpoint location for each stick but some are tricky. Low and mid are pretty self-explanatory. Mid-low are usually sticks that don't have much of an engineered kick point (i.e. they are constant flex).

    YearBAUERCCMEASTON (now Bauer)REEBOK (now CCM)SHERWOODWARRIORTRUE
    2019Supreme 2S Pro/Supreme 2S (mid-high), Vapor Flylight/Vapor 2X Pro (low) Jetspeed FT2 (variable)n/an/aProject 9 (variable)
    2018Nexus 2N Pro/ Nexus 2N (mid), 2018 Vapor 1X Lite (low)SuperTacks AS1 (mid), Jetspeed (variable), Ribcor Trigger 3D PMT (low)n/an/aEK365 (low)Covert QR Edge (low)n/a
    20172017 Nexus 1N (mid), 2017 Vapor 1X Lite (low)SuperTacks 2.0 (mid), RBZ FT1 (constant), Ribcor Trigger2 PMT (low)n/an/aBPM 150 (mid)Alpha QX (mid-low)XC9 ACF (mid-low)
    2016Supreme 1S (mid-high), 2016 Vapor 1X (low)Super Tacks (mid), RBZ Revolution (constant), Ribcor Trigger ASY (low)Synergy GX (mid)n/an/aCovert QRL (low)A6.0 SBP (mid)
    2015Vapor 1X (low), Nexus 1N (mid)Ultra Tacks (mid), RBZ Speedburner, Ribcor Reckoner (low)Stealth CX (low)R27 (low)Rekker EK60 (low)Dynasty HD1 (mid)A6.0 (mid), XCORE 9 (mid-low)
    2014Nexus 8000 (mid), Total One MX3 (mid-high)CCM RBZ Superfast (constant), Tacks (mid), RIBCOR (low)V9E (low), Synergy HTX (mid-low)n/aTrue Touch T120 (mid)Covert QR1 (low)n/a
    2013Vapor APX2 (variable, low)RBZ Stage 2 (variable)Mako II (mid-low), V9 (mid-low)RIBCOR (low)Rekker EK15 (low)Dynasty AX1 LT (mid), Covert DT1 LT (low)n/a
    2012Total One NXG (mid), ONE.9 (mid), Nexus 1000 (true mid)RBZ (variable)Mako (mid-low), M5 (mid-low) Stealth RS II (low)20k (low)True Touch T100 (mid)Covert DT1 (low), Dynasty AX1 (mid)n/a
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    Pattern Equivalency Chart

    These aren't 100% but for the most part should be pretty close. Keep in mind that every company could measure their depths/lies differently.

    NOTE: Curves that are italicized are not equivalent to the rest in the row, but close enough to be grouped with them.
    NOTE: Curve names change all the time, please just focus on the curve code (i.e. "P92" instead of "Backstrom" or "Ovechkin")

    NOTE ON LIES: Every company measures lies differently. I (AIREAYE) have changed the scoring system of the lies below to reflect better across the board. So for example, all Bauer lie 6s I have considered as 'Medium', lie 5s as 'Low' and Lie 6+s as 'High' as a general guideline.

    CurveLieFaceDepthToeBAUERCCMEASTONREEBOKSHERWOODWARRIORTRUE
    HeelMedium (5.5, 6)Very Open1/2"RoundP91A , P106 (deeper curve than P91A)P15E6P36APP20W05HCR
    HeelHigh (6)Open1/2"SquareP02P20E5n/aPP05W12HCS
    Mid-HeelLow (5)Neutral3/8"RoundPM9P14E4P42PP09, PP96W01MC2
    MidMedium (5.5,6)Open1/2"RoundP92 - also in lower lie 5P29, P19E3 - also in lower lie 5P87APP26, PP92 is the lower lie 5 equivalent to the PP26W03TC2, TC2.5 is the lower lie 5 equivalent
    MidMedium (5.5)Open3/4"Squaren/an/an/an/aPP77W71
    MidMedium-Low (5,5.5,6)Slight Open1/2"RoundP88P88, P30

    P45, P38 (same as Reebok's old P38 Datsyuk curve)
    E36P40, P38 PP88W88 , W16 (same as Reebok's old Dastyuk curve)MC
    MidMedium-Low (5.5)Slight Open3/8"RoundP12P17E6n/aPP12n/a
    ToeMedium (6)Slight Openno ideaRound/
    Square
    P14P46n/aP46PP01W14n/a
    ToeMedium-Low (5)Open1/2"RoundP28P28E28n/aPP28W28TC4, TC3
     
    Last edited by moderator AIREAYE: Feb 23, 2019
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  2. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Introduction

    There's something alluring about the hockey stick that makes it more than just a tool. Maybe it's the amount of time spent preparing them for battle, maybe it's the wide variety of sticks on the market, and maybe it's just because it separates hockey from figure skating. Hockey players love their sticks and some of them could talk shop for hours.

    I frequently see questions online such as, "What stick should I get?", "How important is flex?", "What type of curve can help my shots?", and "Are $200 sticks worth the money?" Being a tinkering kind of guy, I've tried probably dozens of sticks, shafts, blades, and accessories to help my shot. I haven't been thrilled with what I've seen out there in terms of explaining what to use and why, so I will give it my best.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that no stick in the world will make you a dramatically better hockey player, but using the wrong stick can hurt your shooting, passing, and confidence. Experience is the best teacher, so if you can, borrow a teammate's stick, find a store that lets you take some shots, or buy and trade used sticks, blades, and shafts. That way you will find the stick that suits your needs. And when you find that stick, practice!

    What you don't want to do is buy a $200 stick without knowing exactly what you want and need. When you cut it down and tape it up, it's worth about half that much, and you don't want to be stuck with a stick that hurts your game.

    Handedness

    The first thing you want to consider when buying a stick, which way should I shoot? Most of us already know, but for a beginner or a kid just starting out, it's a valid and important question.

    In hockey terms, a right-handed shooter holds the butt end of the stick in his left hand and the shaft in his right. A left-handed shooter holds the butt end of the stick in his right hand and the shaft in his left. So a lefty's stick blade is on his left side, and a righty's stick blade is on his right.

    Because about 9 of 10 people are right-handed, we should expect the same to carry over in the hockey world, right? Actually, most NHL players are left handed. Why is this? It's because the top hand controls most of the movement of the stick in shooting, stickhandling, and poke checking. If you are right-handed in writing, eating, whatever, and you place that dominant hand on the top of the stick, you'd be left-handed in hockey terms.

    So why aren't 9 of 10 hockey players left-handed? Because most of us grew up and were taught to play a certain way, how to hold a stick, or just became comfortable shooting one way or another. And once we start down that path, it's almost impossible to change direction.

    My advice to parents who are just starting to teach their kids to play, select a stick with as straight a blade as possible and let them try and figure out which way to shoot. If they don't have a preference, encourage them to try it both ways. Great hockey players throughout history have shot both ways, so it's not going to make or break them.
     
  3. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Materials and Construction

    The first time I went to buy a hockey stick as an adult, I walked into a shop and saw thousands of them in racks. There were a handful of wood models, kind of like the ones I used as a mite, but far more colorful composite sticks just like the pros used, which were of course very expensive. I settled on a bright green composite with a separate blade, kind of like the aluminum one I used when I had last played. There were several different curves, so I just picked one that looks like a "normal" hockey curve. Of course, it turned out to be a cheap fiberglass shaft with a plastic blade that wasn't meant for ice hockey.

    This is possibly the same thought conundrum that greets many new or returning players. Lots of confusing sticks that all look similar, aside from the colors, along with a wide disparity of prices. What I'd like to do is go through the basic stick types and explain the pros and cons of each.

    Wood Sticks

    The basic wood stick has been around forever, and it's likely the stick many of us used as a kid. The popularity is dwindling way down among professionals on down to recreational players, which is a shame because a good wood stick is a lot of fun to play with, and should be the stick of choice for any new or young hockey player.

    Wood sticks vary in construction based on price. The cheapest wood sticks are simply a piece of wood with a blade glued onto the end. These are inexpensive and usually very heavy, not recommended unless you only plan on playing a few times.

    Better sticks will have a lightweight core wood with several thinner layers of a heavier wood on the outside for durability and blades wrapped in fiberglass for strength. These sticks are a great choice for recreational players and kids, as they are still inexpensive but will hold up much better and tend to be lighter in weight.

    Expensive wood sticks may have fiberglass or carbon in the construction and laminated wood blades for increased stiffness and durability. These are only recommended for very strong adults as they are far too stiff for most of us to use.

    Aside from the low cost, wood sticks typically have tremendous puck feedback. When you catch a pass, vibrations are dampened, and you feel the puck settled on your blade. Hard passes almost seem to stick to the blade due to the additional weight. This is a huge benefit to newer players, who are still developing the ability to catch passes and handle the puck.

    Unfortunately, as great as a fresh wood stick feels, they have a tendency to lose their strength very quickly. With the constant force and abuse of the puck and ice, they weaken and eventually shots will stray off target and lose velocity. The blades themselves absorb the moisture of the snow and go soft as well as develop cracks. While a newer player may use the same wood stick for several months, an elite player could potentially go through several sticks in a single game. The stronger the player, the quicker the stick wears out.

    In short, I like a wood stick for young players and new players. When the player has built up enough strength and has a good understanding of shooting technique, it's possible to gain benefits from a composite stick.

    Composite Sticks

    Making up the bulk of stick sales the last several years, one-piece composite sticks are the way of the future. They are so named because they are usually made of a composite of materials such as graphite, fiberglass, Kevlar, and occasionally other materials as well. The ratio of these materials determines the performance, weight, and durability of the stick, as well as the price.

    The cheapest composite sticks have a high fiberglass to graphite ratio, which gives high durability to slashes but poor performance. They bend and return to shape slowly, which takes speed off the shot, and often will have poor feel for the puck. They also tend to be very heavy, sometimes as heavy as a wood stick. The only advantage they have over wood is increased durability, but the higher price, poor puck feel, and lack of performance means I would not recommend them for any player.

    High-end composite sticks are made exclusively of graphite, which is lighter and snaps back to shape quicker than fiberglass. These are the sticks of choice for most elite players due to their light weight and quick release. While these sticks have excellent performance, they are very susceptible to breakage, and often manufacturers will add layers of Kevlar to the shaft to prolong their life.

    In addition to these ends of the spectrum, there are a number of sticks to hit various price points between them. Generally, the more expensive the stick, the more graphite and less fiberglass, resulting in lighter weight and higher performance. But even the best of these price point sticks can vary quite a bit from the highest end sticks due to construction differences.

    Since the introduction of the composite stick, players have complained about the lack of puck feel. A lightweight, hollow shaft combined with a very stiff blade means a lot of vibration is transferred into the player's hands, which can muddle puck feedback for newer players. And that same stiff blade that transfers energy so well into shots will make hard passes bounce right off, unlike the dampening effect of wood. Some manufacturers will have a blade core of foam, silicone, or other materials on high-end sticks to recreate the wood feel. Again, this is another advantage to the expensive composite sticks.

    Overall, composite sticks have the potential to allow a player to shoot quicker and harder as well as last much longer. I'd advise against a cheap stick for any player, as the poor puck feel, heavier weight, and lack of performance benefits compared to a wood stick aren't worth it in my opinion. But it's very easy to find high end sticks at lower prices as manufacturers are always pushing new products to market and closing out older models. That's the best value for your average player.

    Shafts and Blades

    Although very popular in the later 1990's, the shaft and blade two-piece stick is becoming less prevalent. This is unfortunate, because the majority of the benefits of one-piece sticks can be recreated with a proper combo, typically with a cost savings in the long-run. Players that tend to wear out and crack blades can replace them at 1/3 the cost of a new stick, and player that tend to snap shafts can replace them at 1/2 the cost of a new stick.

    There are two basic kinds of shafts: standard and tapered. A standard shaft has the same size opening at both ends (for senior models, anyway), while the tapered shaft narrows at one end to accept a blade (more on this in a later article). It's important to match the correct shaft and blade as one will not fit with the other. Because manufacturers don't sell as many two-piece sticks as they do one-piece, most of the models carry over from year to year and lag the performance and innovation of one-piece sticks by several years. There are fewer price point models as well.

    A two-piece stick allows players to fine-tune their rig by mixing and matching manufacturers. If you prefer the feel of an Easton blade and the kick of a Warrior shaft, you can use them together. You can combine a wood blade with a high-end tapered shaft and get tremendous puck feel with the quick release of a composite stick. And if you don't like a particular curve, you can swap it in just a few minutes.

    The downside of the two-piece is the weight and balance. The blades have a long tenon that fits inside the shaft, which adds mass and weight near the end of the stick. While this might not be a lot of additional weight, adding it to the very end of a long shaft will move the center of mass far down away from the hands, which dramatically affects the balance of weight, and might impact puck handling. Additionally, manufacturers tend to innovate their one-piece models and simply carry over their older shafts and blades, so you will likely not be able to use the latest and greatest technology.

    As you can probably tell, I'm a fan of the shaft and blade two-piece stick. I usually buy high-end tapered shafts that are slightly used for about 1/3 the price of retail, put in my favorite blade, and end up with a stick that has nearly all the performance at less than half the cost of a one-piece. For intermediate and recreational players, they have the best performance and value.
     
  4. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Stick Size

    Sticks come in four main sizes:

    - Youth - for very young players, typically under 8 years old and 4' tall
    - Junior - for younger players from about 8 to 12 years old or until they're about 4'9 tall
    - Intermediate - for teenagers or adults under about 5'6"
    - Senior - for adults or teenagers over about 5'6"


    How do you determine which stick size is right for you? Typically you can grab a stick off the shelf, measure it's height with the tip of the blade resting on the floor, and if it's between your mouth and eyebrows, it's likely in the right area. You may have to cut the stick a few inches or add an end plug of a few inches length (for composite sticks) to get your preferred height, but it should start out around that area.

    Length

    How long of a stick should you use? The short answer is whatever you find the most comfortable, but there is a thought process behind this. The traditional recommendation for hockey players is to cut the stick off at the chin in skates or at the bottom of the nose in bare feet. This is a good starting place for most players.

    There are benefits to shorter and longer sticks. Short sticks mean the puck is carried closer to the body, which helps players who like to carry the puck. It's also easier to control the stick as there is less distance between the blade and hands. Skilled forwards typically have a shorter stick for these reasons. A longer stick obviously helps players grab loose pucks and poke check further from the body. It can also help put more power on shots as a hockey stick acts like a lever when shooting. This is why you often see defensemen and checking forwards using longer sticks.

    Here's a wonderful video about stick length:



    Of course this doesn't take into account blade lie, a player's skating style, and how a player shoots. Most hockey players use a stick cut higher than their collarbone. But it's still fun to see how an old time hockey coach like Howie Meeker does it.

    Finally, keep in mind that it's always easier to cut a hockey stick down that it is to make it longer. With composites, you can put an end plug in the stick which does change how it feels (more on that later), but with wood sticks you are stuck with that length!
     
  5. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Flex

    To me, flex is one of the most important factors of stick selection. It's roughly defined as the stiffness of the shaft, or how difficult it is to bend. When you are shooting a puck, you generate strength from your forward momentum and body weight, rotation of the legs and trunk, push-pull mechanism of the upper body, and wrist snapping. With a very stiff shaft, a lot of this energy is lost, and the puck loses quite a bit of velocity. A flexible shaft allows you to store that energy in the shaft, which coils up like a spring, and then release the energy for a harder shot.

    Wood sticks tend to be very stiff, one of the big drawbacks for shorter players like myself. Composite sticks are offered in a variety of flexes, typically 50 flex for juniors, 60-70 flex for intermediate, and 75-100 flex and above for senior sticks.

    When selecting a stick, you should test the flex in the store. First, here's how you DO NOT test the flex: DO NOT grab a stick off the shelf and push down on it as hard as you can to see just how much you can get it to flex. This can snap the stick in half, and unless you want a $200 wall decoration, I'd recommend against it. Even if it doesn't snap the stick, it can create tiny stress fractures and weaken the stick for a future buyer. Just don't do it. How you SHOULD test the flex is to hold the stick as you would when taking a wrist shot, and push down slightly with your bottom hand while pulling up slightly with your top. If the stick flexes about an inch or so under light stress, it's a proper flex. If you really need to push and pull, it's too stiff. If it feels very soft and flimsy, it's too whippy.

    There's a rule of thumb that says you should select a stick flex that is half your weight. This is likely incorrect, because it fails to take into account height and body composition. A hockey stick acts as a lever, with the bottom hand the fulcrum. The longer the stick, the more torque you can apply, and the easier it is to flex. Let's take two players who weigh 170 pounds, one 5'6" and the other is 6'4". Using the half-the-weight rule, they get 85 flex sticks. The stick comes up to the chin of the 6'4" player in skates, whereas the other player needs to cut 8" off to have it come up to his chin in skates. The short player now has a stick with an effective flex of about 120 flex!

    Instead, I like to base the flex of a stick from the player's height, assuming average build and strength:

    ~ 5'0: 50 flex
    ~ 5'6: 65 flex
    ~ 5'9: 75 flex
    ~ 6'0: 85 flex
    ~ 6'3: 100 flex

    When you cut down a hockey stick, you will make the stick feel stiffer, and it changes by roughly 3-6% for each inch you cut it down. A low kickpoint stick will feel like it changes less, and senior sticks will change less than a junior stick. Again, if you use a longer or shorter stick than average, you may need a higher or lower flex. If you're very muscular or very thin, you might need a higher or lower flex. Alex Ovechkin and Brian Rolston are about about 6'2 and 215-220, yet Ovechkin uses an 80 flex stick and Rolston a 120 flex because they prefer a different feel and play a different style game.

    Kickpoint

    A lot of talk about hockey sticks nowadays is about the kickpoint, and many players are looking for a stick that has the lowest kickpoint possible. Every manufacturer claims to have ultra low kickpoint sticks to attract customers. So what is a kickpoint and is it really that important?

    The kickpoint of a stick is roughly defined as the area where the stick tends to flex most. A standard non-tapered shaft has a uniform thickness along its length, which means it will bend right in the middle of the shaft. That is referred to as a mid-kickpoint. Alternately, a tapered shaft or stick narrows at the blade end, which makes the material easier to flex or bend. This is a low-kickpoint shaft.

    When you flex a hockey stick, you apply force to the walls of the shaft, which compress and store energy like a spring. With a low-kickpoint stick, the bottom portion of the shaft near the blade is the first part to bend and compress, which means it loads up for a shot quickly and releases that shot quickly. A low-kickpoint stick can benefit players who shoot quickly mid-stride, especially those who take wrist and snap shots. Mid-kickpoint sticks tend to flex higher on the shaft near the bottom hand. More of the shaft can bend and store energy, which gives the potential for a higher velocity shot, although at the expense of release time as the blade has more distance to travel to return to shape. A mid-kickpoint stick can benefit players who take slap shots and one-timers.

    More importantly than velocity and release is the feel of the stick when loading and shooting. Sheldon Souray and Zdeno Chara have devastating slap shots, but one prefers low- and the other prefers mid-kickpoint sticks. Alex Ovechkin and Marian Hossa both have lightning quick release, but one prefers mid- and the other prefers low-kickpoint sticks. This is one of those matters that is personal preference and best if you can borrow a teammate's stick for a few shots.
     
  6. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Curve

    By now, hopefully you've got a good idea of what you're after in terms of selecting the right type and size of stick, along with the flex that will maximize your shot potential. The last component of selecting a stick is the curve of the blade. There are many components of the blade that need to be taken into account when selecting the perfect curve for your game.

    Lie

    The lie of the blade corresponds to the angle between the stick and the ice when the middle of the blade is flat on the ice. A higher lie makes the stick more vertical while a lower lie makes the stick closer to the ice. It's important to find the right lie for you in order to maximize the amount of blade on the ice, which will allow you to catch passes and shoot the puck easier.

    Players who skate with their knees bent and keep low to the ice often like a low lie blade (5 lie or lower). It makes the stick effectively longer, which helps with poke checks and grabbing loose pucks. A high lie (6 lie or higher) is a better choice for players who skate more upright. It allows players to stickhandle close to the body and pull the puck in for shots for added power. Medium lies (5.5 or so) will be somewhere in the middle. Often the lie of the blade will correspond with the length of the stick. Because a short stick places the heel of the blade closer to the body, a higher lie will ensure the blade is flat on the ice. A longer stick places the blade further from the body, so a lower lie keeps the blade flat.

    One rule of thumb in determining lie is to examine the tape wear at the bottom of the blade. If the tape is worn out at the heel, you might try a lower lie. If there's a lot of wear at the toe, you might try a higher lie. If the wear is in the middle or even across the bottom, it's probably the right lie for you.

    [​IMG]

    Rocker

    The rocker of a blade is the round or sharp characteristics of the heel. A blade with little to no rocker has a sharp angled heel, which maximizes the amount of blade on the ice at all times. A rockered blade has a smooth curved heel, which plays like a lower lie when stickhandling but a higher lie when shooting. If you skate and stickhandle low to the ice but bring the stick more upright when shooting, a rockered blade might help your game.

    Some blades have a rocker near the toe, which makes the lie even higher when shooting off the end of the blade. Players like Brett Hull and Jason Spezza use these rockers, which helps with quick shots from in close to the body. Most retail curves don't have a rockered toe, so it's not something that most players will encounter.

    [​IMG]

    Type

    The type or location of the curve indicates where the curve of the blade starts.

    Heel curves are a mostly flat blade that curves at the heel. The flatter blade makes passing and backhands easier but puts less spin and velocity on wrist shots. Heel curves are often preferred by players who take mostly slap shots. Retail examples are the Drury and Lidstrom. These are very popular among pro players who have the advanced technique required to control them.

    Toe curves are a mostly flat blade that curves near the toe. This can help with toe drags and stickhandling as well as putting a lot of spin and zip on wrist and snap shots, which are often shot off the toe of the blade. Toe curves are often preferred by shooters and stickhandlers. There are no true retail toe curves anymore, although many European players still use them.

    Mid curves are between heel and toe and are a good all-around curve. Retail examples are the Sakic, Iginla, and Lindros curves. These are the most popular curves among recreational players as they are easy to learn and control.

    [​IMG]

    Depth

    The depth of a curve is the amount of curve on the blade. Until the 1960's, all blades were flat, which gave the player excellent passing and the ability to shoot equally well from the forehand and backhand. A flat blade allows the player to be incredibly accurate with passes and shots as the blade is very predictable. Centers who take a lot of draws as well as playmakers who need accurate passing can benefit from a flat blade.

    The Chicago Blackhawks with Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were the first to use a curved hockey blade. They found that the curve made shots unpredictable for the goalies and added velocity. A deep curve can add a lot of spin to the puck, which makes the puck fly like a frisbee, increasing velocity and keeping the puck on target. Too much curve will make backhand shots and passes softer and less accurate.

    [​IMG]

    Face

    The face, or loft, of a blade is the angle it is tilted relative to the ice. A blade that twists open and faces upward will raise shots in the air, while a blade that faces forward or is twisted slightly closed will keep pucks low to the ice. If you have trouble raising your shots or keeping them low, picking a curve with a different face can help your game.

    [​IMG]

    Length

    A short blade is easy to maneuver and can improve stick handling, while a longer blade gives more surface area to catch passes and grab loose pucks. A longer blade also has a larger sweet spot when shooting and can put more spin on the puck if used with the proper technique. Keep in mind the length of the blade is the primary factor in the weight of the blade, which affects the overall weight and balance of the stick dramatically.

    Toe Shape

    Most blades have either a rounded or squared toe. A round toe is often preferred by players who handle the puck often and can make toe drags easier. Square toes can help players protect and grab the puck along the boards and are often preferred by defensemen.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    So you've got your shiny new stick home...great! Now what?

    NHL'ers can spend an hour every day cutting, customizing, and taping up new sticks before every game. Most of us recreational players spend a good amount of time getting our sticks to feel comfortable as well. I've spent way, way more time than I should have customizing my sticks, and here are some things I've learned along the way.

    Tools and Equipment

    For those of us who enjoy customizing our sticks, there are several tools that make life a lot easier:

    - Hacksaw - Any hacksaw will do, just pick up a new blade for it (about $2-3) so it cuts easily.
    - Mitre Box - This is a simple box with a line cut in it to make sure cuts are straight. I like the plastic ones you can get for about $5.
    - Heat Gun - Hair dryers don't generate enough heat to do the trick. The $20 guns at most hardware stores work just fine.
    - Glue Gun - Any cheap glue gun will do the trick, but most new ones that run about $5-7 will heat up a lot quicker.
    - Rasp and File - Most hardware stores will sell an 8" rasp/file that is rounded on one side, flat on the other, and bigger and smaller teeth for about $10.

    Installing Blades

    Putting a new blade into a shaft is simple with the right tools, although there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure both are the right size, senior or junior, standard or tapered. Use the heat gun to heat up the shaft, holding it a few inches away, aimed a couple inches from the end, and rotating it slowly. It only needs to be heated for about 10-20 seconds; too much heat can cause the finish to bubble and damage the shaft, which may lead to premature breakage. Once the shaft is heated, insert the blade. New blades often have some glue that can be melted with a heat gun. With used blades, I slide them in 3/4 of the way, then apply a couple lines of hot glue on each side of the tenon, and slide it in the rest of the way. This prevents glue from rattling around inside the shaft (annoying!) and the blade from coming loose.

    After the stick has cooled for about 10 minutes, test the fit to see if the blade is too loose. Grab the blade in one hand and the shaft in the other and wiggle. If there is any movement or cracking noise, you should heat the shaft again and remove the blade. Try adding a layer of hockey tape to one of the sides of the tenon (length-wise), which will take up some slack. If it's still loose, add another layer of tape. Anything more than two layers indicates a poor fit and you should use a different blade.

    If everything fits properly, remove the excess glue by hand and you're all set.

    Cutting Sticks

    Once you know how long your stick should be (see the earlier article), it's easy to cut it down to length. Take a piece of hockey tape (contrasting color to the stick) and mark where it needs to be cut. Use a mitre box and hacksaw for a clean, straight edge. When the stick is cut, wipe it down with a damp cloth and gently file the edge to make it smooth.

    End Plugs

    Chances are you bought a stick that was too long for you and cut it down to length. Those of you who are taller might actually need an extension plug at the end of the stick in order to lengthen the stick to your needs. Any hockey shop will sell a wooden end plug that fits into a senior or junior stick for about $5. Simply install them as you would a hockey blade and cut them down to length.

    End plugs can also be used to change the balance of a stick. Recall that a hockey stick is a lot like a lever, and the bottom hand is the fulcrum. Typically you have that bottom hand above the halfway point of the stick. Because of the weight of the blade, it might feel a lot heavier than it actually is. A wood end plug adds weight to the opposite end of the stick, which restores the balance. If you like the length of the stick but want to improve the balance, try cutting the tenon off and inserting it flush with the end of the stick.

    A wooden end plug can also change the feel of a stick by dampening vibrations. If a stick feels too lively, try inserting a wood end plug (even if it's only the tenon) into the stick.

    With a wood end plug, you can change the shape to suit your hand. If you've got smaller hands, try sanding the end plug with your rasp and file. Some players like an oval shape or even a round wheelbarrow shape. The rounded rasp end works great to cut down the corners, then smooth it out with the flat file end.

    Taping the Butt End

    Nearly every NHL player has his own unique tape job. Some players like a large knob at the end, some no knob at all. Some players will tape just the knob and others will tape down the entire length of the stick. The best thing to do is to experiment with different tape jobs and see which you prefer.

    The classic tape job is simply cloth hockey tape wrapped around the end of the stick to make a knob big enough to fit in the palm comfortably. When the knob size feels right, tape down the stick to add a bit of grip to prevent the hand from sliding down.

    To make a ribbed tape job, twist the tape around (sticky side out) to form a rope, wrap the rope down the stick, then tape over it going back up. You can space out the ribs to fit between your fingers, as well as using wider and narrower tape to change the size of the ribs.

    The first few times you use a freshly taped stick, the adhesive of the tape might make the knob feel sticky. To fix this, sprinkle a bit of baby powder on a new tape job and rub it into the tape.

    Besides regular cloth hockey tape, there is special flex tape that some players prefer. Flex grip tape is a thin mesh that is wrapped over an existing tape job or the stick itself. It doesn't contain sticky adhesive, but the mesh squares are quite a bit grippier than regular tape. Some players find flex grip tape causes too much wear on the palms of their gloves while others believe it causes palms to wear less than cloth tape.

    Taping the Blade

    Just as many players have a unique tape job on the butt end, blade taping styles vary from player to player. The basic tape job is simply cloth tape that overlaps from heel to toe. Some players will tape the entire blade and some will tape only the middle or only the toe. For beginners, I recommend taping the entire blade to give friction and cushion.

    The main purpose of blade tape is to provide friction for the puck. Hockey sticks, especially composite, are quite slippery when wet with snow and ice. A layer of tape provides something for the puck to grab on to, which helps with catching passes and putting spin on the puck while shooting. Different brands of hockey tape have varying amounts of friction, some feeling very smooth and others rough like sandpaper.

    Aside from friction of the tape itself, the ridges made by overlapping the tape grip the puck and create additional spin. Using narrower tape (or tape ripped in half) can add more ridges and friction, whereas wider tape will create fewer ridges.

    The other purpose of tape is to improve feel for the puck. Composite blades are very hard and stiff, and a layer of tape can provide just a bit of dampening to help catch hard passes. Wrapping the tape closer together will help cushion the puck more, while keeping them spaced apart will give a livelier.

    Players who stick handle and use toe drags often tape over the toe to grab the puck. The best way to do this is to wrap the tape around the toe of the blade just as if the blade were longer, then to cut the excess tape with scissors along the toe.

    Hockey Wax and Friction Tape

    Regular cloth hockey tape absorbs moisture from the snow and ice. In some situations, this can attract snow along the blade and affect feel for the puck. A bit of wax rubbed on to the tape will repel moisture as well as add a bit of grip. The best waxes are specially formulated for cold weather and are available in a solid puck shape. Simply rub the wax on to the tape in order for it to do its job. Some players will rub a very thick layer into the tape then melt it with a heat gun, a lighter, or rub it in with their fingers.

    Another option is to use friction hockey tape. This also repels snow and ice and provides additional grip as it is sticky on both sides. It is typically more expensive though and can be difficult to apply.

    Changing the Tape

    Some players are fanatical about taping their blades, sometimes taping in between periods. Others will tape it once and use it until the stick breaks. There are no rules, but remember that worn hockey tape cannot provide friction for the puck. If you use a wood stick or blade, be sure to remove the tape after every usage to prevent them from rotting and going soft.

    Tape Alternatives

    Wayne Gretzky was one of the first players to use something other than tape on the end of his stick. He wanted something that could easily be applied and was consistent from stick to stick. There are several products available today that provide an alternative to traditional hockey tape.

    Tacki Mac produces grips for the end of the stick made of a rubber material. They are lightly textured and become grippy rather than slippery when wet. I find these produce a much more secure grip than cloth tape as well as wearing glove palms less. The grips are sold with a double sided adhesive tape that is slippery at first and then dries in place. You can also use cheap hairspray such as Aqua Net to secure them (as well as remove pen ink from desks).

    Bladetape is a very popular tape alternative for the blade, also made of rubber. It sticks to either side of the blade and provides a texture grip and cushioning for the puck. The manufacturer claims it lasts about 10-15 uses, although users may find it lasts a lot longer or shorter. It does change the feel for the puck as well, improving it for some players' taste and muddling it too much for others.

    Painting

    Although today's hockey sticks are colorful and eye-catching in the store, that same finish can be distracting on the ice. A few NHL'ers will spray paint the bottoms of their sticks white or black. Regular flat finish paint does the trick, just be sure to spray thin, light coats to avoid runs.

    Adding Grip

    Another common practice among NHL'ers is to add grip to hockey sticks using black tape. To do this, find a spare wood end plug or a section of hockey stick. Wrap black tape around it with the sticky side out and rub this along the sides of the shaft until you're satisfied with the amount of grip. If you want to clean it off, some Goo Gone on a rag does a great job.
     
  8. Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Musings about Stick Length, Flex, Lie

    With the coming hockey season, people are gearing up, and obviously you want a new twig. For beginners, in my opinion, there are two crucial mistakes made way too often:

    - their stick is too stiff
    - their stick is too long

    They kind of play in to each other. Lots of beginners grab the cheapest composite they can find off the wall and tape it up. They don't look at the flex or cut it to length. Most of these guys are under 6' and use 85-100 flex sticks. They couldn't break a pane of glass with their shot.

    These guys for the most part can't carry a puck, can't protect it, can't make quick moves with it. It's because their top hand is knocking into their body, preventing them from moving the puck freely. And keeping that puck further and further away makes for clumsy stickhandling and poor passes (imagine using a 20' long stick, it would be difficult to control the puck).

    Also the shots aren't very good. With great technique, a long stick can let you use a stiffer flex and add a lot more power to the shot. But for the most part these guys are swatting at the puck or making glorified passes. It's no wonder most of their goals come from backdoor plays and what not.

    If they used a shorter stick with some flex, they'd be able to use the whip of the stick, speed up the release, get on top of the puck, and get some velocity on their shots. One of my teammates is 5'6 maybe 140 soaking wet. He was using an 87 flex chopped way down. I gave him one of my 67 flex sticks, same curve and slightly shorter length. His shots damn near doubled in speed. He picked up an intermediate the next day and has greatly improved all aspects of the game.

    Now the caveat.

    Not everyone needs to use a shorter stick. If you have good puck control and technique, you can use a longer stick. Look at Marian Hossa or Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk used to use short sticks when he came into the league but made them longer and longer. He's possibly the best puck handler in the world and breaks the above rule, because he's so damn good. He can use the longer reach without suffering.

    Defensemen often use long sticks too. Jared Spurgeon, a 20 year old 5'8 defenseman who made the Wild last year as a rookie and did a damn good job, uses a stick taller than he is (I'm the same height and checked out some of his game used sticks). He's not all-world like Datsyuk but he's better than a lot of NHL defensemen with the puck.

    On to stick flex, once you cut down the stick, you'll need a whippier flex. Yeah I can use an 85 flex stick at full length at 5'8, but chop it down and it needs to be 70 flex. It's my opinion that 90% of your stick flex needs are determined by your stick length, not weight. It's because the more you cut a stick, the stiffer it gets. Proportionally, a lot of players use similar flexes once you account for length and original flex. I did a survey over at Mod Squad Hockey of over 70 players and the overwhelming majority of guys used a predictable flex for their stick length.

    That's why I usually recommend:

    5'6 - 65 flex
    5'9 - 75 flex
    6'0 - 85 flex
    6'3 - 100 flex

    This assumes you chop the stick down to 1-2" below the chin, which should be the shortest you'd need to go to get full puck control. If you can use a longer stick and give up some of that puck control, you could use a little stiffer stick.

    For lie, it depends on your playing style. If you shoot the puck a lot with good technique, you'll probably want 5.5-6 lie. That's because you want the puck closer to your body to get more power on your shots, and that means a higher lie. If you're a passer you'll probably want a 5 lie or less. You'll want to be able to make moves with the puck further away from you. The closer to your body you play with the puck (shooting, playing on the boards, etc), the higher lie you need. Don't pick lie based on stick length, pick it based on your playing style.
     
  9. garnetpalmetto Administrator

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    Continue here
     
    AIREAYE likes this.
  10. SCMURRAY Registered User

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    Anyone jump on the QR Edge line yet. I know the release was very recent but I've seen sticks in stores for a about a week or 2. Im currently using the QR1. I really like the covert line, was going to jump into the QRL or QRL Pro but maybe ill just shoot for the Edge? Any other covert players have any input..
     
  11. Nvxs07 Registered User

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    I got you. I’ve had it since June due to the vip program. It’s the real deal man. 400 grams, the new edge taper which has a faster release, and the sleek graphics. You honestly cannot go wrong. It can also take a beating in men’s league games. Very little wear from the hacks and slashes.
     
  12. SCMURRAY Registered User

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    Just broke my QR1 in warm ups last night. 2 years strong on the stick thought. I think im going to go with the QRE Pro
     
  13. Nvxs07 Registered User

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    You honestly won’t be disapointed. It’s that taper man, their technology is top notch.
     
  14. Smirnov2Chistov EEK!

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    Any issues with Sideline Swap? I’m thinking about selling some sticks on there that I never use. Didn’t know if using that or EBay was better
     
  15. Nvxs07 Registered User

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    Sideline swap is clutch but I heard the fees can be insane. Also check out sports2k. You can use PayPal directly and whatnot.

    Whatcha plan on selling ?
     
  16. Smirnov2Chistov EEK!

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    I have a CCM Rbz 60 that I bought at a Dicks Sporting Goods a long while back. Didn’t pay a lot of money for it, but when I used it on the ice it didn’t feel right with me. Extremely grippy too.
     
  17. Missionhockey Registered User

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    I think I need a little help.

    As I was taping my stick yesterday I notice that my blade on my Bauer Vaper X was chipping which I'm guessing means it's on it's last legs. I'm looking into my options but the guy from the store told me that all sticks you buy today have the sticky grip around the shaft which I can't stand. So I guess I have two questions: First, is that true, and second, if it is true, is there anything I can do to minimize the stickiness? The guy at the store told me to sand down the shaft which is an idea I'm not crazy about because I don't want to compromise the integrity of the stick.
     
  18. Em etah Eh Maroon PP

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    When buying a “pro stock” stick, is it pretty much implied that all you are getting is a shaft?
     
  19. AIREAYE Moderator

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    Yeah the vast majority are grip only now. Sanding won't necessarily compromise the integrity oft he stick but it's messy and inconsistent. If you do a search on these boards, there are several threads about people trying different methods.
    No, where did you hear that? More context? I think I have a short blurb about pro stocks in the Guide.
     
  20. Em etah Eh Maroon PP

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    Well, I had a bit of an odd experience. I ordered a pro stock left handed QR from Pure hockey and they shipped me a shaft only, with the end all tore up. I took it in to one of the stores and nobody could understand why the warehouse would have shipped that to me.

    They even shipped it in a shorter box. When it showed up at my door I assumed they sent me a junior or something...
     
  21. stl76 #Petro4Norris

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    Recently chipped the toe of my favorite stick. Any advice on how to repair the damage/prolong the life of the stick?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  22. TGWL Registered User

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    Tape on the toe. Add some gorilla glue first.
     
  23. Nvxs07 Registered User

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    +1 for the gorilla glue/tape combo.

    I used a few wraps of clear then put the ole black overtop and it’s been a year. Hasn’t chipped anymore
     
  24. Smirnov2Chistov EEK!

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    Rather than make a new thread just for this question I'll put it here.

    Have hockey companies moved away from the 2 piece set-up or are they still making shafts and blades separately? I feel more comfortable in a two-piece combo than the overly grippy one piece that are out today,
     
  25. puckpilot Registered User

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    From what I've seen at the shops, there are shafts and blades from True and Bauer that were based on their last generation sticks--which is just a year or two ago--still around. But I think overall it's a dying breed.

    Though, if you think about it, companies are still making two-piece sticks and just calling them fused two pieces, which is them just slipping a blade into a shaft and hiding the fuse point under material. People have separated blades from broken shafts and broken blades from intact shafts, and combined the two good pieces to form a perfectly fine hockey stick.

    Any ways, I digress.
     

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