Kukla's Korner


Hockey Blogging Leading to Hockey Engineering

At the beginning of December, I let it be known that I would be going through change with respect to my blogging. At first, I thought it might only be due to the fact that I was entering the charged and key final term of my mechanical engineering undergraduate career. The very career that opened me to my three great interests: engineering leading me to writing and editorial roles, and those roles leading me to hockey.

To complete this educational career phase, I thought that I should focus on my education to the near exclusion of the other two. Not long into that decision, however, hockey insisted that if I had to focus on engineering, it would complete the circle and insert itself right into the thick of all things engineering related.

My personal life would not likely interest many readers here, and so I seldom spoke of it. But those readers I have might wonder where I have been.

That, and there might be a pique of curiosity in those who wonder how engineering, university research, and composite hockey sticks fit into the discussion on Kukla’s Korner.

It’s no secret that composite hockey sticks have many ways to tempt players, chief among them the reduction in weight and the increased potential for controlling the energy boost that their flexible nature can give to every kind of shot.

The conundrum is that they break. In large number. At the worst possible times, and with no warning.

For the casual fan, the concern is the cost every time a $100 stick breaks, compared to a $25 wooden stick that shows far greater durability and predictability. For the NHL, it’s the key moments that sticks seem to break. For every Kovalev netting his 1,000th point on a shot that broke his stick, there are countless times when a gaping net or key breakaway chance would evaporate as a player’s stick seemed to crumble as casually as if it were made of snow.

As today turns into tomorrow, I have signed on to tackle this.

If you look around and try to figure out how manufacturers of hockey sticks are testing their composite products, most often you will see little information. If you can find a video, you might luck in to a hockey stick supported at the blade or heel and top of the shaft being bent until it breaks. This test is used to evaluate the hockey stick’s performance. Do you find yourself thinking of a slap shot, as I do? I know that if someone gradually puts weights in my arms until I am holding 100 lbs., I might break a small sweat. Yet if someone launches that same 100 lbs. at my arms at high velocity, I might break a number of bones in my arms. Not really a realistic test, is it?

That is the problem. Along with several other graduating engineering students, during my break from hockey reporting, it is one of a number of problems we intend to attempt to tackle, and a series of solutions we intend to make the hockey world take notice of. Ironic, too, that it was a story Paul posted here that first put my nose to the ground on the matter.

When I might be back in force in the blogging world, I cannot say. But this is calling to me and cannot be ignored. I thank those who have gotten me here, Paul and all the writers at KK. I thank them for making me feel welcome. I thank others along the way who inspired and emboldened me, such as the Sens Underground gang, Elliotte Friedman, Pierre LeBrun, Greg Wyshynski, Erin Nicks, David Pollack, and many others, whose small moments and words meant a great deal to me.

Mostly, I thank you, the readers, who kept me motivated to keep typing away, indeed from basements on a laptop to buses on a SureType BlackBerry to Montreal’s media areas for the All-Star Game and Draft. I hope this won’t be the last I write for you, but one way or another your game, our game, will have my hands on it, hopefully for a long time to come.

Filed in: NHL General, NHL Media, | SENShobo | Permalink


Da lil Guy's avatar

Best of luck in your career endeavors. Sounds like a blast.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 02/04/11 at 04:22 PM ET

SENShobo's avatar

Thanks. It’s certainly becoming more than I expected, and hopefully the funding support we are getting helps to bring some light to the problems we see. Hopefully enough that bigger players take note and ask about it, too.

Posted by SENShobo from Waterloo, ON on 02/04/11 at 09:12 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Definitely think you’ll have a great time, Hobo.  Best wishes.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/04/11 at 09:32 PM ET

VooX's avatar

Good luck, Hobo, although if you are going to take away Mickey Redmond’s griping about composite sticks breaking, you are going to also have to find a replacement for A2Y’s drinking game category.

Posted by VooX from Behind the Bar in the Hasek Club Car on 02/09/11 at 05:06 PM ET

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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net

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