Kukla's Korner Hockey
For a young player, the appeal for composite sticks, and frankly any piece of equipment, has a great deal to do with what their professional idols are using. Kids see the league’s most valuable player, Sidney Crosby, score his way in to the record books using a certain type of hockey stick and they want what he’s using.
The question is: Is a composite stick necessary for every player, or simply a fancy frill for those who can afford it?
The term itself might be somewhat deceiving for a first-time buyer. Composite is not in reference to the combination of the blade and shaft of the stick, which is a common misconception.
It’s actually in reference to the what he stick is made of in terms of materials.
from the Arizona Republic,
...Players on both teams endured the frustration of at least a dozen broken sticks, a situation Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky called “ridiculous.”
“I have no idea why we don’t go back to wooden sticks,” he said. “These sticks just break continuously. If I was a player, I would step on all those sticks out there. I wouldn’t let anybody use them.
“If a stick would ever cost me a goal in a hockey game, that would have been it. I would have never used that kind of stick ever again. We need to look at it from a hockey point of view, not just our team. From a hockey point of view, it’s ridiculous. I was teasing the guys on the bench - we got to go back to using wooden sticks. They said they don’t make them any more. That shows you how much I know.”
Coyotes equipment manager Stan Wilson said the composite sticks, composed mainly of carbon fiber, were stronger when they first came out.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
While Therma Blade received approvals for its blades from the NHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey months ago, the poor reviews from Draper and Lapointe have prompted the NHLPA to balk at signing off on the fledgling product.
And without the approval of the players’ union, the heated blades, which are attached to boots of existing skates, would no longer be able to be used in NHL games, which would be a key marketing tool for the Quebec company.
NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said the union has concerns that the blades don’t deliver as promised – especially considering their price tag. “Before we give our approval or endorsement to a hockey product that will increase the cost to the average family, we should take steps to ensure that this product indeed performs as advertised,” Kelly said.
From Ian Austen at the NY Times,
Thirteen years after acquiring Bauer, and making bold promises that it would transform the business of hockey, Nike has put its Nike Bauer unit up for sale, a rare bit of comeuppance for one of the world’s powerful brands.
Though Nike Bauer remains a market leader, many analysts predict that the company will find it hard to recover even half the $395 million it paid for Canstar Sports, Bauer’s Montreal-based parent, in December 1994.
“It was one of Phil Knight’s ideas,” said Brady Lemos, an analyst with Morningstar, referring to Nike’s chairman. “Perhaps they were too optimistic.”
more… looking at the history and details of Nike Bauer’s performance and what went wrong
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
Nike’s venerable hockey division, Bauer, is poised to be sold off to a non-sports company for the first time in the company’s long history….
As the Bauer auction winds to a close, speculation has percolated in recent weeks that rival sports apparel and equipment maker adidas may follow suit and put hockey division CCM on the block.
ReebokCCM has re-designed CCM’s logo, given the brand its own booth at a high-profile upcoming Las Vegas trade show, and signed hockey phenom John Tavares to an endorsement contract.
“adidas bought Reebok to enhance its pro-sports position in North America,” said Jim Rennie, who for years published a trade letter about the hockey industry. “Sadly, hockey is now a secondary pro sport in the U.S., and adidas has other priorities. Hockey doesn’t figure in its strategic vision. Hockey won’t help it catch up to Nike – hence they likely exit.”
more... And there are also rumours circulating that TPS Hockey, which has “offshored” almost everything of late, is going out of business…
This hot-and-cold argument has raged almost from the time composite sticks became popular, early in the 2002-03 season. It was very much a topic in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dressing room Friday after defenceman Pavel Kubina’s stick disintegrated as he leaned into a wide-open slapshot in Tampa on Thursday, which might have provided the visitors with a last-minute victory.
Instead, the Lightning broke away on an odd-man rush and Vincent Lecavalier slapped in the decisive tally with 41.6 seconds left in regulation time.
“Yeah, a broken stick probably cost us a game the other night,” forward Matt Stajan said.
from the Daily News,
Their company, Skillz Systems, has developed an interactive stickhandling training system delivered in a gaming format. QuickStickz provides immediate feedback and allows players to keep score.
Confident it will revolutionize the hockey world, the men say that other devices on the market help players work on their skating and shooting, but so far there has been nothing available beyond balls, pylons or videos for improving stickhandling.
from the Toronto Star,
“We’re always looking at new things that come across our desk,” says Mike Murphy, vice-president of hockey operations for the NHL. “There’s always a package with something in it, a new puck ... and in our due diligence, we take a look at them.”
Sitting on Murphy’s desk at the NHL’s Bay St. offices are several pucks mailed in from inventors with ideas on improving the puck and its performance.
Among the versions Murphy studies are discs with 30- and 45-degree angles planed into the edges. The inventors claim the shaved pucks bounce less than standard models, especially when they rebound off the boards.
Bouncing appears to be the chief complaint against the puck, and the target of individuals attempting to refine it.
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
“I just think there’s going to be a steady, dramatic increase in visor usage,” said Kelly, hired by the NHLPA in October to replace ousted former NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin. “Players are getting the message that they should put a visor on, there are more young guys and European guys coming into the league, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 20 (percent) spike in the number of players wearing visors next year, and another 15 percent spike the year after that.
“Even left to its own natural evolution, visor use will become pretty much unanimous in a matter of two or three years.”
from Loose Change at the Hockey News,
Evidently frictional drag from skates is a huge problem in the NHL, which makes me look at Wade Belak totally different now (not slow, just heat-deprived). Warming tiny strips of metal surely seems like a semi-rational answer, although I likely would have suggested a telethon to raise public awareness as a better first option.
And the technology is so involved and precarious it raises as many questions as it does provide answers….
What if one of the blades goes all haywire and starts melting ice at a brisker pace? Would the dude just go around in circles?
And will the technology become so advantageous that not having it will render a player virtually useless? Little Jimmy hasn’t seen a minute of overtime cause he’s recharging.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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