Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 01/12/07 at 03:00 PM ET
By George James Malik
Charlie had the Chocolate Factory, and Ralphie had his Red Ryder bb gun. Me, I’m a hockey gearhead. I’ve handled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sticks, gloves, skates, pads, and goalie gear over the last fifteen years, and I was recently given my Gearhead Experience of a Lifetime as TPS Hockey opened the doors of its Wallaceburg, ON factory to me. TPS graciously opened its doors and gave me an all-access pass to their stick-making facility, and there’s only one word to describe it—AWESOME!
When I parked my Pacifica in a suburban business park in Oakland County and shook hands with Mr. Graham Watson, TPS’s tremendous TPS Sales Representative for the Detroit area, I was almost immediately given a piece of advice that I must emphasize from the get go: “These days, everybody makes good gear.”
Mr. Watson’s right. Hockey equipment manufacturing has become so advanced that it’s hard to find a bad company these days. Each and every company works extremely hard to give you more consistently-performing, protective, and responsive hockey equipment than ever before, and the goal is of course to give you maximum bang for your buck.
As much as aerospace technology and engineering that rivals computer science go into making hockey sticks, the passion and expertise of the people who design and build them have an exponentially greater effect upon the performance of your gear than the materials themselves.
As we headed east on 696 in the early-morning rain, Mr. Watson patiently allowed me to fiddle with my digital voice recorder and ask questions, ever the consummate salesman, working with my comfort zone. Swapping stories with a consummate professional like Mr. Watson was an experience in itself, and I could probably write an article solely discussing his encyclopedia about hockey knowledge…but this is about the gear
We popped off I-96 and headed Northeast to Algonac, where a ferry spirited us across to Walpole Island, and five minutes later, we arrived at the factory.
The building isn’t out of the ordinary, and it could easily fit in any industrial park in Metro Detroit, but there’s something special on the roof that lets you know exactly where you are:
The recipe for stick-making involves an amazing amount of research, cutting-edge engineering and manufacturing processes, a level of craftsmanship that can only be described as artisan, and lots and lots of passion.
Rob Thistle, TPS’s stick-making guru, then gave me a detailed tour of the factory floor. What follows are his words and pictures:
He first took me to a multi-tiered rack of that was over eight feet high and over twenty feet long:
“So, the first thing we have to do is to make a pattern to make a mold. This is our master pattern storage area, and over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of patterns. You can go to any pattern box and find a pattern for the specific player, and it will have in here all of his quality records, and the information we need to make his blade. That’s what we make our patterns from.”
“This is our pattern prepping area. The first thing we do when we have a pattern is we measure the curve on it so we know what it was when we got it, and we try to keep all those numbers consistent throughout our process. We have this device [shown above] for measuring curves. You put the pattern in here, you clamp it by a common reference point, and you measure the curve. This whole location here, we have indicators that go on here and we take numbers off of it and we know what the curve is.”
Me: “You do it three-dimensionally so you can make dies, then.”
”Yep, that’s right. We also have a hand-held curve unit [the devices shown on the table], and you can put the part of the blade in there, and we reference off the face of the blade, and we measure the curve out of the toe. These three are one of your datum’s, we have a 3-2-1 datum scheme so you’re always referencing it from the same way every time.
“It’s a gauge that’s only something that we have. We engineered and made ourselves, so it’s not something that’s on the market today.
“So we then take the blade and prep it to TPS specs: we have our own specs on what the thickness has to be, so that all of our blades are very similar, except that we don’t change the lie, we don’t change the profile. We have our own unique taper on the hosel and our own unique thickness through the blade.”
Me: “What types of reinforcements do you use in the blade, and how do you find the sweet spot in the blade itself, and also, I know you can move the sweet spots around, and also to work the puck, depending on the player’s preferences?”
”Depending on his preferences, we have about 34 different lay-ups that we offer on a pro level, and they all do different things depending on what the player wants, and it’s different internal lay-ups with the composite material. If he wants his blade stiffer or less stiff, a lower kick point or more action in the hosel, or if he wants it stiffer, that’s all from what he tells us, and we can do all 34 lay-ups in our models.”
“So far we’ve prepped his pattern and now we have to make a mold. The reason we don’t make a mold off what he gave us is that we’ve prepped it and have taken it into a TPS configuration.”
“This is the area I can’t show you, in the mold room, because it’s proprietary, but I can show you the molds. Any one of these molds is unique to each player, and they have their own pattern number. And the mold itself has a cavity in it, and that’s the shape of his blade, and we made that here. We can make anywhere between 4 and 8 moulds a day depending on how busy we are.”
“What you have to know about the material is that it has to be conductive so that we can heat it up.”
”These are our manufacturing presses, and these are our ovens. So we take those molds and we put it in the press, we put the blade in the mold, close the press, close the mold, clamp it up, and it goes through a heat cycle. It gets the resin to cure in the composite material, and cools down again. Then we sand it down to finish any leftover material from the molding process.”
Me: “So is that a foam core there?”
”Yeah, a foam core. Pretty much everybody has a foam core blade, but ours is unique to our process. Some people will even use a cork core in their blades; we’ve seen that in some of the benchmark tests.”
“We have freezers, because we buy our composites from a composite manufacturing company in California, and it has to be refrigerated when it’s shipped from there to here, and it has refrigerated here to preserve the life of the material. If the resin sees heat, it will cure before we can put it through our processes. It comes in rolls, and it’s got paper on the back. You peel it off and that’s your material.
It’s about .007 of an inch thick, it’s very, very thin, and on its own it’s got good tensile strength, you can’t break it or tear it, but it is individual fibers, if you go along the grain direction. We have a biasing operation that cuts it on different angles and you crisscross the grains and build layers for different stiffness and different mechanical properties as you build up the layers.
Me: “So, depending on the angles at which you lay it up, that changes stiffness and torsion of the shaft?”
”Yep, if you think about it, if you have two pieces of crisscrossing fibers that intersect…We can change it in the shaft and the blade depending upon the player’s need.”
”Then we take it into a CNC machine in there that cuts out the different blade shapes, and it comes back out and we lay it up. Every single player that we have here has his own CNC program, and they’re all on a computer, so we create new ones every day as player patterns come in. Our operator calls up a pattern by the pattern number, and the work order based on the work order tag, and they cut out the shapes that go into each blade. He cuts a kit for our workers to put together.”
”We have a kanban system so they don’t do a lay-up here unless there’s a production order that the presses tell them what they need. They put a card in the window from outside, it isn’t cool out there so we use a window system, and we don’t want our lay-ups to sit around so they become unconsolidated and the stick properties change.”
“So these are the lay-ups,” [above] “and from a lay-up book they know how an X-1 or an X-whatever, we have books for the recipes for each stick.”
“Then we add another layer to get a weave pattern on the blade. It’s also carbon fiber material where the grain’s already woven to give it a good visual appearance instead of a flat-black colour blade. It’s very appealing and it has good mechanical properties as well, and we’ve introduced it into our shafts—the R8 this year. The press puts the curve into the blade depending on the geometry of the mold.”
We have processes through the manufacturing cycle to remove air voids from the lay-ups. Air and moisture are your enemies, and we make sure things stay nice and tight before we put them into the mold.”
”Making shafts requires the same basic process as blades. We take our carbon fibre material off the rolls and lay it up specifically, layering it for different shaft flexes and physical properties, and we have over a hundred different shaft geometries that we can order. We offer so many sizes, flexes, and shapes that we need a computer to keep things straight. We have our standard flexes, and we have flexes that we can tailor to a player’s specifications, and even if it’s a standard flex, we make a custom lay-up for each player.”
Me: “So how do the materials affect stick durability?”
“The exterior material that you put on your shaft is what takes the impact from slashes, and that’s key to durability. Over the years we’ve gone from using Kevlar shafts, which we still offer, to different materials on the outside of the shaft to take slashes, and mainly in the slash zone.”
“Our process for making shafts is an interior hard tool and an exterior bladder. So the inside of the shaft is in what we call a mandrel, and we wrap our graphite around the mandrel, and we have different sizes and shapes for players. We have a pro radius mandrel, our most common mandrel is concave shaped, so the interiors are caved and the corners are round to give a boxed shape, but we have differently-shaped mandrels, some are smaller from corner to corner, some are smaller from top to bottom, and we can specify them to what the player needs. We use aluminum so that it heats up and conducts the heat to the graphite, and it’s also very durable so that they can withstand multiple cycles.”
”We monitor our cycles, what’s the temperature, what’s the start-up, how long it takes, and those matter the most in terms of creating the physical properties of the shaft. The material we use would change the process of the heat cycle, so we prefer using aluminum as it’s the most consistent.”
”Different manufacturers have exterior molds and bladders inside the shafts, so inside the hockey stick would be an inflatable bladder, but we feel that this gives the stick better consolidation so that the material stays tight.”
”In our oven, [see below background] we have 100 clave tubes in here, so we cook 100 shafts at a time. We have a steel tube on the outside, we evacuate the air by using a bladder, and we slide the mandrel in there. We regulate our pressures through our cook cycle and we regulate our temperature through our cook cycle, and we take one of the sticks and we break them on a machine to make sure that the baking process has worked. It takes about two hours, and different materials require different heating processes to cure the resin, so we have to ramp the temperature up depending on the shaft’s needs.”
“This is our R8 shaft, you can tell by the ‘window’ on the stick itself, you can see the pattern of the 3K woven fibre, and we flex 100% of our shafts on this machine. [above] The operator checks the shaft depending on the colour code, and if it’s not to spec, we reject it. We always flex from the end of the shaft to remain consistent.
“We offer our older product if the player still wants to use it, but we’re consolidating our retail lines under the R8, R6, etc.
”Our blades and shafts are married together and are put in a rack to cure them in an oven and cure the joint.”
Me: “Is the concept of a true one-piece overrated?”
”This is both cost-effective and we’ve made sure that this is the best possible way to produce consistent shafts. We cure the glue at the same temperature and just wheel in the carts for specific periods of time. We also do pull tests on our joints using a pull test machine, and they always pass over 1,000 pounds. We make sure to measure the amount of glue so that every shaft is consistent.
“Now we’re in the painting area. Some sticks need a primer, but we try to stay away from that as they add weight. We don’t use robotics, but we have very skilled paint people to paint each shaft. We also have a grip zone that we’ve incorporated on our decal that we moisten with water and slide onto the stick. We have consistent reference points so that each decal is placed in the same place on the stick as well.”
Me: “Whose XN-10’s are those?”
”Those are Scott Gomez’s sticks. They were our lightest sticks 2 years ago, and our R8 sticks are much lighter, but he prefers them. We can do silk-screening for the older sticks that we produce for those pro players as well. The new sticks only need a decal, which is lighter, but we do offer more colours depending on the player’s preferences.
“We have an inkjet machine to put date codes on our sticks, we can narrow them down to the exact shift, actually, and we serialize them in case of future damage.”
“This is our break-testing machine” [above] “and this simulates impact. We have different ways to do it. We put the stick in a specific location depending on the shaft zone, and we put the shaft in, press it down, and it will snap at a certain point. We have a phenalic rod that, in this case, is trying to simulate another stick in this material. We drop it down, do an impact at the location, if it fails there, it’s a reject, and again, we do one of these out of every load to tell if it’s been cooked properly, if the lay-ups have been done properly, and if we had consolidation.
”So it didn’t break” [it didn’t!], “and now I’ll load it at another location and will load it until it breaks. Then we have our minimum break levels that we’ll release, and we do the same thing with our blades as well. We record all the quality control records of every single production run onto the computer so that we have a record if there are issues down the line.
“We also have a ‘hot’ system in case a player needs a specific stick so that we can fast-track stick production through the system.
“Our other break machine has a puck, and we use a motor to have it repeatedly impact the blade over and over again, and we can determine the durability depending on the results of the impact test.
“Our performance, however, is based upon our pro testing more than anything. Our pro players can test different lay-ups and the durability of the sticks and report back to us. We also have a returns area so that we can analyze breakages for future production.”
Me: “So what do you do with the broken sticks?”
”We tried to use it as a carbon mold material, but we couldn’t grind it fine enough to work in a mold. Our graphite is difficult to procure because we use an aerospace provider, who supplies the military, and it’s very expensive but it’s most definitely worth it in terms of performance. “
Mr. Thistle took me to the conference room, where we did a teleconference with Dave Ottman, who battled through a hockey player-style knee injury and talked about the mechanics of making hockey sticks.
Stick-making starts with an analysis of the physics of shooting a puck. Mr. Ottman explained that TPS uses a combination of motion-capture technology, tons of on-ice testing, and the occasional anonymous, “Here are some sticks, would you mind trying them?” testing to finely tune their sticks.
”Stick motion is all about timing. There are different loading points for snapshots, slap shots, and taking and receiving passes, but players want a stick that will give them a good snap shot first and foremost. The load techniques require a pre-load storage of energy—it’s really about storing and releasing energy, and perfecting that tuned system to allow the best timing of the event. You could draw the analogy of pushing a kid on a swing and getting the best push a the properly timed height of the start of the push; you wouldn’t want to start the push while the swing was still on its way up. Tuning the system requires the right combination of blade design, working in conjunction with the correct shaft design, as a unit.
It only takes a fraction of a second—under 1/10th of a second, to take a snap shot (This is based on a stationary snap shot, not one with the player on the move).
The puck itself leaves the stick from fully loaded in 15 – 20 milliseconds—a millisecond is 1/1000th of a second . The loading rate and the recovery rate is different. With a snap shot, most good snap shot shooters actually load down, slightly into the ice; this stores more energy than just moving the stick forward. A good player’s load time is about 50 – 57 milliseconds to fully load the stick. Since the motion of loading starts before the puck is contacted, the puck is only on the blade for about 20 – 25 milliseconds to reach peak load. the stick, itself, recovers in 45-50 milliseconds.” Slapshots have events that are roughly just over half of these times. These events and their timing are critical. Something that changes the timing or the sensation of this event will interrupt the cycle of this and cause the player and the puck to lose acceleration. When you are talking about high level players, at NHL level, you can’t easily measure the difference on a very fine thing that could change this (at least with most conventional equipment) and make a player want to switch sticks, but the goalie can tell the difference and the player can feel the difference. We actually spent the money and found a way to measure this.
”The puck itself leaves the stick from fully loaded in 15 – 2)milliseconds—a millisecond is 1/1000th of a second . The loading rate is sharp and the recovery rate is different. With a snap shot, the puck transfers its load the puck has no real load to transfer on a snap shot; the player is supplying the load (most good snap shot shooters actually load down, slightly into the ice; this stores some more energy than just moving the stick forward) . A good player’s load time is about 50 – 57 milliseconds to fully load the stick. Since the motion of loading starts before the puck is contacted, the puck is only on the blade for about 20 – 25 milliseconds to reach peak load. the stick, itself, recovers in 45-50 milliseconds.” Slapshots have events that are roughly just over half of these times.
The second part of the science of shot-making revolves around the blade itself. There’s nothing worse than taking a shot and feeling the blade roll on you, and finding the “sweet spot” on some sticks is more error than trial, if it is located incorrectly.
There are fine differences in blade consistency in our own sticks,” Mr. Ottman said. There are 6 degrees of freedom that we can track in all hockey shooting motions – translation (linear movement) and rotation is all 3 directions. When we analyze motion, we evaluate certain components of these directions and see whether the blade’s open or closed, and effecting the outcome of the shot. Using composites also tends to change players’ techniques when they shoot, so our blade design has to be very consistent. We can control our blade designs and change the stiffness locations to help shift sweet spots. You want to keep the blade from opening up” (or turning) “if you miss-hit the puck.”
Mark Tuck, TPS’s operations manager, said that TPS worked with Steve Rice, a former NHL’er, to test the ways that a player’s grip strength changed the mechanics of taking shots as well. To say that pro hockey players “squeeze the stick” a little harder isn’t an exaggeration—Mr. Ottman said that Rice’s grip strength was like a human vise.
The gents were kind enough to let me see some of their proprietary motion-capture video, though I had a “computer escort” so that I wouldn’t email it to myself! It was really awesome to see the stick bend and flex on the shot—as it hit the puck and took on that load, and sprung back and released the shot. The science of taking a single shot is ASTOUNDING.
I asked him about stick-breakage and the use of Kevlar in sticks. I still use a 12-year-old Louisville Kevlar, an old Fontaine-designed warship that’s got a sock of Kevlar around the graphite, and it’s an absolute tank (but it’s heavy as can be).
“We do use some Kevlar, depending on the design, but it’s about where you put your material. The NHL proposed a durability test and manufacturers worked on it. Although Kevlar is a popular outer layer material for impact, Kevlar does not have a good affinity for resin, so it can fail easier in strain. You can make a 100% graphite stick as or more durable in terms of strain to failure ratios and compression fractures than Kevlar. Since graphite bonds with the resins that hold the layers together better, they work better in terms of “compression” (the back side of the stick compresses as it tries to get shorter in length to accept the shooting load). The “tension” side of the stick (shooting side) is the side that bows forward in the middle as it tries to get longer.
“On our R8 stick, the plies of graphite construction are what strengthen the stick; the real trick is where your material goes. A lot of overseas-made sticks use hard molds on the outside, whereas we use a soft outside and a ‘hard tool’ on the inside with a bladder mold. The soft outer bladder drives pressure inward so the plies are compacted better, with lower void content, and also the shaft maintains better components fit.”
I asked Mr. Ottman my inevitable stick-snob question: do they really make one-piece sticks? We hear the term all the time to describe composite sticks, but the truth of the matter is that every composite stick on the market has a separate blade with an end-plug fused to a graphite shaft. Unless you’re willing to shell out $250 for a Swiss-made Busch stick that’s made in a single mold from blade-tip to butt end, the costs of buying molds for every stick curve is impossibly expensive. Busch only offers four or five curves because they can’t afford any more molds, and they make surgical equipment.
Mr. Ottman replied, “With our developments in blade and plugs, it’s really invisible with our pre-preg graphite process, as opposed to resin transfer molding.”
”RTM is a process that injects the resin into the mold to wet-out the dry fiber. Pre-preg material is already impregnated with a precise volume of resin. Also, finer plies are available for pre-preg processing, so it’s possible to tweak properties in each direction better. Because the fiber in the pre-preg is straighter (RTM fiber materials are usually braided, woven or stitched), each layer has better load carrying capability.
“There are companies that currently make pre-preg one-piece sticks that are true one-piece sticks. It is mainly a choice of how much money a company wants to shell out for tooling, also longer processing times (the molds are more massive an take longer to heat up and cool). There are also more complications of doing custom blade shapes, although it slows down the process. It is possible to get out a slight bit more weight from the joint area, but we have been able to offer a very high level of performance with the method we are using and the players that are using it really like it.”
The geometry of the stick is also huge. Convex sticks have sides that bulge outward, making the sides of the stick more circular in shape, while concave sides push inward in the middle.
Mr. Ottman said that, “In terms of geometry versus durability, extreme concave is a good shape because it makes the corners stronger, so they’re under less stress, and it gives more snap to sticks. It also helps with angular acceleration; we did some motion capture and digitized the frames. It showed a greater angular acceleration through the entire loading and recovery event. We use a concave shape on each of the wide and narrow sides to improve the spring effect of the cross section. We also found that we had to reduce the handle dimensions slightly to keep the feel in the players’ hands from seeming too large. Your range of motion with the stick is greater as the handle gets smaller, so it helps with stick acceleration.”
We then moved on to the concept of “taper,” which I’ve never really understood (I feel shame…).
“Taper helps to push the flexing of the stick to a lower point, and it makes our blades livelier, which helps with both taking one-timers as well as receiving passes because that flexing can also dissipate energy when you receive a pass or handle the puck. We’ve made our new product [the R8 stick] to increase that localized flexing effect in our labs.”
Then there’s the recent invention that is spray-on grip material. I have to tape my stick shaft because my hand just slides around, and many players use Gordie Howe tape (sticky on both sides), which just murders your glove palms. TPS actually puts their grip material onto the “decal” that covers the stick.
”The grip material lowers hand fatigue, so you put less pressure on your hands—and the stick—over time,” Mr. Ottman said, “But it’s amazing what graphics can do. They can put on 20 or 30 grams of weight, especially when you spray it on. We were able to chop 10 grams off because we confined the grip to the part of the decal where you generally put your hands, and the stick actually changes geometry as part of that process, which actually gives our sticks a little more consistent taper.”
Then there’s that x-factor—nanotechnology. Some companies already use carbon Buckyballs (think an atomic-sized soccer ball) in their sticks:
”Nanotechnology’s is used in the resins that hold sticks together. We’ve reverse-engineered some sticks that use it, and there are legitimate nanotechnology materials…but it’s mostly smoke and mirrors right now.”
But what about the sticks themselves? TPS is making a big hubbub about their R8 Response Armor Control, but you know how us gearheads are…we go to the hockey shop, we give the retail sticks a flex or two, and then we head straight for the pro returns. “Pro Stock: No Warranty” is like a siren’s call for discriminating gearheads. Flip the shaft over, see that lovely line, and you know it’s a real stick.
Not so much.
Mr. Watson and Mr. Ottman said that the R8 is now legitimately “pro stock”—if you buy the R8 Nash stick (it’s red) in a stiff flex, that’s Nash’s stick. A R8 Afinogenov (blue color) in a stiff flex? Same stick ‘Fino uses. R8 Frolov (black stick)? That’s what they send him, and the R8 Tkachuk (yellow stick) is what Tkachuk uses.
The colours are pattern-specific, so there’s no question as to which pattern is which, and this part’s really cool, too—they said that the R6, which is their retail line, is designed at the same level as their R8.
We wrapped things up with the stickiest issue of all—price—and why, in Mr. Ottman’s words, you should buy a TPS stick instead of one from the “Big Four”:
“Aerospace graphite is very expensive, nd our R8 sticks weigh 435 grams [just under 1 pound]. They’re 100% graphite construction. On a high end, high performance stick, 100% carbon will return more energy faster than mixed constructions.
“Why would somebody want to buy a TPS stick? For the money you spend, you’re getting a tremendous amount of features that we’ve developed through pro testing, a tremendous amount of research and development, and you’re getting more technology per price point across our lineup—from the R8 to the R6, R4, and R2—and you also get a pro-spec blade. The R6 and R8 are double-concave sticks [a pro spec] as well. We put everything we’ve learned down the line into our sticks, and that’s what you get.”
I was also able to speak to Bob Ricciotti, TPS’s Pro Service Manager, about dealing with the pros themselves, and how they compete against the giants of the industry.
Mr. Ricciotti said that they tend to approach players during training camp, because that’s when the players are willing to try new things.
”We don’t charge for our first mold of their sticks, but really, once you get the stick perfected, they’re fine.”
“Most pro guys are skate or stick guys, and some players change their models constantly. Mark Messier went through 47 models of skates and 33 stick patterns, but 95% of the players we have are happy once you get them set.”
Mr. Watson said, “We only have seven endorsees and five goalies. We don’t pay players to use are sticks, and in the ‘A’ markets—every company ranks markets as A, B, or C—and on contending teams, almost everybody has a stick deal of some sort. In Detroit, there’s only one guy in the room who doesn’t have a stick deal, and a lot of companies load the players up with free clothing for the players and their families as well.
“We sell players on our service and our product. We can’t do much with the minor pros because Reebok has deals with the AHL and ECHL, but the NHL is open to us, and we have teams in Sweden, Germany –Rico Fata, Brad Tapper, and Blake Sloan are all dyed-in-the-wool TPS guys—Finland, Norway, Japan—we’ve dominated Japan since the inception of hockey there—and we’re also trying to deal with the Russians now, too.
Mr. Ricciotti said, “Usually, we have to talk to the team’s equipment manager. They’re the gatekeepers, so to speak; they tell us if there are guys who might be bad candidates, but it’s difficult because players in the NHL compare money before performance sometimes. We sell ourselves on our domestic turnaround, which is very quick, and the processes we use to make our sticks.”
I asked him if the players were involved with the stick-making process, and he said, “Andy McDonald actually came to the plant, and he was very knowledgeable about the processes and technologies. We see Cory Perry, Brent Sopel, and Andy Sutton, and Josh Harding, who played with Minnesota last year, he comes in to talk to Dave Wilcox, our goalie equipment designer.”
I also asked him if players are constantly changing their blade or flex patterns:
”No, not really. Some players will increase the flex on their stick if they have injuries—Andy McDonald went to a whippier stick when he was hurt, and he liked it, so he’s stuck with it—but, again, once you get them set, they’re generally very happy with their sticks.”
Mr. Watson said that in terms of setting trends, TPS was very, very proud of their pink sticks to raise awareness of and money for breast cancer research. “The players were actually really receptive, starting in Toronto, and that’s led to fundraisers in baseball, the AHL, and the OHL as well.”
Perhaps the best part of the interview was watching Mr. Watson and Mr. Ricciotti head over to the stick display to give the new R8’s a flex. Mr. Watson picked up an R8, gave it a little flex, and smiled. He’s the guy who’s getting Mickey Redmond to try composite sticks, folks, and he had a smile a mile wide.
It’d like to thank TPS hockey for a tremendous, tremendous experience. Mr. Tuck, Mr. Thistle, Mr. Ricciotti, Mr. Mike McAlorum, and Mr. Dave Wilcox, Mr. Watson, and the entire factory opened its doors and gave me a red-carpet tour, including a discussion with Goalie Guru Dave Wilcox, and it was the experience of a lifetime.
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