Bad Breaks Hurt NHL Snipers

Scott BarnerContributor IJanuary 2, 2009

When a craftsman performs his skilled task, he uses tools that work well and do not break under pressure or at critical times.

So why in the world do the elite snipers of the NHL choose to use the graphite or composite sticks that seem to be breaking in record numbers?

Some say they are lighter. Others say it "just feels good" in their hands.  I say it is merely psychological and a marketing ploy by the stick manufacturers.

Ask Mario Lemieux if he feels like he would have scored more goals or could have improved his play if he put down his wooden stick.  He would disagree.

He was, and still is, a vocal proponent of the "old fashioned' wooden stick.

As I attend games and watch as much of the NHL as is televised, I see more of these extremely expensive graphite sticks breaking at critical points.  In particular, on the wind-up for the slapshot.

Sticks are breaking nightly at an alarming rate and at the most critical times.  I was watching a game the other night where they dramatically slowed down the image and showed how, on the windup, the sticked bowed and the blade snapped before it made contact with the puck. 

Some are making fashion statements with these flashy colored lightweight sticks.  Colby Armstrong of the Atlanta Thrashers, once commented that he liked the aerodymanic holes carved in the shaft of the stick.  

He also liked the cool green color. He thought he had one of the coolest sticks in the NHL.

Why in the would would any NHL player use this criteria to choose their most important tool of their trade?  

The cost of these sticks are a different story.  The NHL player doesn't have to worry about this since, in most cases, they are provided by the various stick manufacturers.

But what about that young kid in Pee Wee Hockey who patterns themselves after their favorite player?  Of course they have to have the same cool stick as their hero!  This sets Mom and Dad back a few hundred.

God bless the poor kid if he breaks his stick during the season.  The folks have to take out a second mortgage on the house as it is to outfit Junior properly for the season without this unnecessary expense.

If I had my druthers, they would be outlawed at all levels of hockey. Of course, the stick manufacturers would come up with scientific data to dispute my observations.

Regardless, I long for the days of Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr, where wooden sticks still scored goals and worked magic.

Long live the good old fashioned wooden stick!!!