This video hit me with all the nostalgia. The stick. The team letterman jacket. The other kid in the team windbreaker jumpsuit. It's that time of year. School has started. Hockey try-outs have either just happened or they're coming up this week. It's time to go to Gunzos or whatever your hockey pro shop of your youth was and find out exactly how much your dad loves you as you pick out your new hockey gear. You're convinced that if you get the stick and skates you want you'll be Cale Makar, but in reality you were actually his dink friend in the video who is likely an undeclared major on the club team and telling girls he plays on the hockey team and prays they don't know the difference.
I feel like this blog is going to be just for people my age who lived through the rapid hockey stick technology evolution. When I started playing hockey everyone was still using wood sticks. By the end of my run of one piece composite sticks were the standard. That's a hockey stick curve on hockey stick development. Wooden sticks for roughly 100 years and then in the span of 10 we got all sorts of different materials, curves, and tech that led us to where we are today. We all have that unique experience of running your fingers over the rack of sticks, picking out a winner, carefully taking it off the rack so you didn't send the whole thing crashing down, giving it a quick flex, and then being told by the manager of the store not to flex it.
I have been wrestling with how to do this breakdown. Part of me wants to do chronological order and the other half of my brain wants to do a ranking. The problem with chronological is that I can't remember exactly which sticks came out when. It's a fuzzy memory, so just bear with me. Some of it will be in order. The others are going to be "directionally correct".
"Uh oh, Someone Learned How To Shoot"
I don't know if this is a problem for kids today, but when I was in mite hockey I remember having a hard time lifting the puck and picking corners. Heavy sticks, the little bitch ass blue pucks weren't invented yet, and my dad read somewhere(because he never played so all his knowledge on hockey came from reading) that Adam Oates and Gretzky and the greatest playmakers all had flat curves...long story short...not many goals for Young Chief. Then..I got a Sher-wood Featherlight with a Coffey curve and I turned into Teemu Selanne overnight. Pucks were sailing top corner. They were also going head high off the glass and out on the PK. This stick was a weapon. Eventually everyone had it. I don't know what the Canadian equivalent of the White House is, but it should be constructed out of these sticks. I am fairly certain this was the most widely used stick of all-time. Ages 8 to 38 all had the Sherwood. Until...
Easton Aluminum HXP 5100
If you had this stick circa 1995 congratulations…your dad loved you a lot. I did not have this stick. I did however have a teammate that had it. I used it in practice one time and it somehow crumpled up like an accordion when I went into the boards with it so my dad bought one to replace it for my teammate and I went back to using wood. Was this actually a good stick? I have no idea. I do know that it carried a level of prestige simply by the shiny metallic look, who used it in the NHL(Wayne) and to my knowledge it was the first mixed/alternative-materials stick. Wooden blade, light weight aluminum shaft. The game was never the same. Easton pushed the envelope and announced their presence at gunzos with authority.
Zee Greatest Two-Piece Stick, The Easton Z Bubble
I want to say this was my stick in bantams. I had yet to hit a growth spurt, and wouldn't until I was 17 years-old, but this stick made me feel strong as an ox. It was light as fuck. Like comically so. It weighed less than your gatorade you had in your other hand. This is one of those sticks that was so popular that if you didn't have it you were a social pariah. You might as well go play house league. Also…your dad didn't love you if you didn't have this stick and you're probably paying more than the stick cost per hour in therapy because of that.
The Best Of Both Worlds: Louisville TPS Tri-Core
In my head this stick had it all. The light weight and torque you get from the composite sticks and the feel of a wood stick. Was that true? Probably not. I don't remember having a ton of success with this stick but I still loved it. I think I was the only one though because I only remember the one model. By the next year the tri-cores were gone. Nobody jumped on this train which is a shame. Great stick. I want to say I had it when I was like 14, 15, or 16. Something like that. Soon after, there was a new standard…one piece composites.
The Standard Is The Standard: Easton Synergy
This was the stick that changed everything. The heat guns that warmed up the glue as you slid the blade into the shaft (which was downright sexual) was a thing of the past. We have entered into the era of one piece composite sticks. Again, I can't remember if this was truly the first of it's kind, but this is the one that everyone had, made it the standard, and truly made playing hockey easier. If you could snap pucks bardown with this beauty then you should've just played lacrosse. This thing worked wonders. A consistent flex point. You could rifle little snap shots with ease. It was a truly GREAT stick. Iginla used it and you should've used either his curve or Sakic's. People complained about the feel of this stick initially and Easton capitulated and came out with a stick for guys with rocks for hands.
Easton Synergy Si-Core
Don't let people on the internet fool you…this stick was TRASH. They literally put a little piece of silicon in the blade to supposedly make it easier to handle the puck. The reality was that the only thing it made easier was breaking the blade in practice every three weeks. I had this stick and hated it so much that when Easton sent me a free replacement at prep school I gave it away to a french canadian kid we called "Como Se Va". Shoutout Adam, thanks for taking this piece of shit off my hands as I transitioned to…
I feel like I might be entering "Chief snake draft" territory here, but I loved this stick. I hated the si-core so much that I abandoned Easton sticks and went with the CCM vectors. Do you know what a vector is? Me neither. It's something science-y and a physics term and per science this stick would add 10mph to your slapshot. It was the original Ovi stick and it was in those old capitals colors which may or may not have been intentional but it was a nice touch. Great stick. It was your first step towards being a big boy and the big boys all used…
TPS Response/TPS Rubber
For whatever reason I associate these sticks with men. I feel like everyone who had it used the Lidstrom curve or the Tkachuk and they could either rip the heavy bomb of all time or break it with a cross check to your back. It was for big boy hockey like Keith Tkachuk. Now, I never really liked the sticks with the rubber grip. I always felt it added unnecessary weight and I didn't even like the feel of the grip. This in my head was a working man's stick. I don't know if Nik Hjalmarsson used this stick, but at the same time he absolutely did.
Bauer Total One Supreme
Bauer sent me these in like 2015 and it's the last stick I've used. This is when they started moving the flex point from middle of the shaft down towards the bottom of the blade. All those years of off-ice station training where you had that ten pound plate on a rope tide to a stick that you would curl up were a waste. All those times you'd squeeze a tennis ball on your way home from a game as your dad yelled at you were for nothing. Kids today have it so easy. Pucks just fly off everyone's blade now. Everyone has a great snap shot in 2020. I remember having a coach who would shoot pucks off the crossbar and they'd fly straight up and brake the lights above the ice. That guy was a hockey hercules. Now everyone can do it with the technology today. Brett Hull would probably score 1500 goals if he had sticks like this in his day.
That…is where my knowledge ends. I never had mission sticks. They were still a mainly roller blade company when I stopped playing competitively so if you have one of those I think you're a soft ass bitch. The opposite of the of the TPS rubber. I am sure I am missing some good ones. The yellow synergy is one that is famous because of Marty St Louis, but I never personally had. Hit me up on twitter or the comment section to let me know what I missed.