If the above image looks like an ad for Easton, it’s because, well, I also work for Easton, so it is.  Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the process of getting yourself that (non-brand specific but obviously Easton I mean right?) perfectly custom stick that’ll best allow you to bury pucks at every opportunity.

Below are some of the things you need to pay attention to. Keep in mind that your average sports shop may not be up on all the exact ins and outs of the stick they’re trying to sell you, so a little self education goes a long way.

Curve

If you’re at least planning on spending an average amount of money on a twig, curve is your basic starting point, and what you’re going to look at first. You know how it is – you pick the stick, check the name on the shaft, pick it up and set it down, and evaluate the curve.

Depending on where the hook starts, curves are classified as heel curves, mid-curves, or toe curves. A heel curve would be more like the early-day Lidstrom’s which tend to open the blade up like a wedge. The toe curve is less rounded early on, and has the majority of the hook in the toe (and therefore usually less loft). I’m guessing you can figure out what a mid-curve is (an old-day Yzerman, or Sakic, now Hall).

My personal preference: low-lofted mid-to-toe curve.

Loft, to be clear, is how many degrees the blade opens up. if you struggle to get the puck up, you may like more loft. With more loft comes a small lack of accuracy though (or so I found), which is why I preferred a low-loft – getting the puck up was never an issue.

Weight

D-men tend to prefer heavier sticks to forwards (dead seriously, part of the reason is for chopping those quick little bastards). Being the last man back means you’d like a little more weight/reliability to your twig, so like Boris the Blade told Tommy in the movie Snatch, weight = reliability.

Weight really comes down to what you’re spending. I’m spoiled, and couldn’t fathom using something heavier than the lightest thing available. For many others, they don’t give a shit. Total preference.

Flex

Like all things stick, this is preference, but there’s an explanation for why guys like what they do. The whippier the shaft, the less you have to put into it to take a quick, hard shot. But then again, if you have a high swing speed (and muscles) and like to take slapbombs, whippy shafts don’t let you take the hardest possible shot (unless you’re Brett Hull, which you’re not, so let’s move along).

Danny Briere starts the year using a 75 flex stick, and as he loses muscle mass throughout the season (as most players) do, heads down to a 65, which is what Hull used to use. Those guys are anomalies. Most people use a regular flex (100) or stiff flex (110 – some guys, like Chara, likely use triple-stiff), depending on their strength and priorities.

In college, I used a 110 because I felt like the lag of waiting for my damn stick to flex cost me a millisecond in front of the net. Later in my career, I came to prefer a regular 100 flex, which I use now.

Lie

Here’s where you’re going to run into problems at the sports shop, and it sucks. You generally can’t choose your lie off the rack, and it makes a big difference. Lie equals how upright or low your blade-to-shaft ratio is. My Dad liked to use a real low lie, which means he’d be great stick-handling with the puck away from his body, but on passes in tight, the heel would come off the ice and make it harder to take passes.

I liked to (and still do) stick-handle with the puck in close to me, so I liked a very upright lie. But to use that, you need to pay attention to…

Length

Obviously this is something you tend to after you purchase the stick, but using a more upright lie means you can use a shorter stick. For me, an offensive creator, a short stick with an upright lie was perfect. All depends what you’re into.

Grip

You’ll see some NHLers that wrap tape all the way down the shaft of the stick, and they’ll do it on non-grip sticks. This makes no sense to me. In fact, using non-grip sticks makes no sense to me, but again: preference.

I liked to be able to really grab hold and fire without my glove (which may be damp by the third period) moving out of place when I’m trying to shoot. I would tell most people to just get grip shafts.

Toe

The toe of a stick can come squared or rounded. With the round toe, you’re able to take more awkward passes in around your feet (given that there’s more surface area on the ice than with a square), and allows you to get creative with your dangling.

The square toe allows more surface area for a direct, true toe pull, which means that for a defenceman trying to change the angle of his shot (likely trying to shoot it past a blocker), that might be for you. As you could guess, I’m into the round toe.

Shape

Most shafts come in almost the exact shape these days. When I was younger, I tried the convex, concave, and at one point, the Trilage triangle. There are no advantages to something funky, though I do prefer sticks with sharper, more square edges so the stick doesn’t turn over in my hands when I don’t want it to.

Price

This comes down to you. If you’re willing to spend triple digits, you’re going to end up with a nice stick. If you’re willing to hit the $200 range, goddammit you better like it, and better keep that receipt. Old wood sticks broke more than current one-pieces (you’ll never win that argument with me), in that they used to crack, semi-break, get flimsy, lose chunks and all the rest, but when these ones go, they go.

As much as it may hurt down the road, I just couldn’t go back to a heavy, cheap stick. But it’s all about what you know and like, so take some time to figure out exactly where you fit into each of the above categories, and get shopping.

After all, it’s hockey season, you guys.

***

I’ve written a little bit about stick-prep before over at Puck Daddy, but more specifically about how to prepare it *after* you pay for it. You can check that out here.

 

Comments (28)

  1. A quick note about stick flex – I find that most beer leaguers use sticks that are way, way too stick for them to bend effectively. The difference in them and NHL/college/high-level junior players is stark in the way they can use flex because a.) beer league form on almost all shots sucks and b.) beer leaguers don’t spend the hours weight-lifting that professional or college (or junior) players do.

    I know the rule of thumb is about half your weight, but that assumes you’ve got good form and proportional upper body strength. If you’re a newbie, a girl or someone who is a decent skater but shoots like a mite, then dipping down in the flex department can make all the difference.

    • To dove tail in on this post, I find that i definitely prefer sticks with more flex. Currently, i’m using a 75 but have considered recently going with something even lower. The lower flex sticks though are typically labelled as intermediate as opposed to senior and I just wanted to make sure i’m not going to wind up with a stick that breaks when i put my weight on it.

      Anybody have experience using the intermediate sticks? Are they as durable as a senior grade stick?

      • Heck, I use the tallest junior stick I can find (I’m 5-4, and it comes just above my mouth in shoes). It’s a 50 flex, and it’s nearly two years old with just some cosmetic chipping. I also own a 70 flex intermediate which is very nice and about 4 years old at this point.

        Intermediates are basically shorter, whippier senior sticks in my experience. They’ve got the same shaft width, same blades, same durability. When you get down into juniors, you’ve got to make sure you get a senior-sized blade on a junior-flex stick as some juniors have smaller blades.

        Do any of your teammates have an intermediate that they’d be willing to lend you during practice to try out? I don’t think you’ll have any durability problems, but playing around with one might make you feel better about the investment.

        • nobody i play with uses intermediates, and i was told that they were less durable (but thats by soem guy who doesnt use them and probably has no idea).

          So yeah, thanks for the insight.

      • I’m 6 foot, 185 lbs and I’m a low flexer. I’ve bought intermediate sticks before because I wanted to try out a 65 flex. I thought it was a bit too much. When I could waggle the stick and watch it flex in my hands that was too much. It made catching hard passes more difficult too. I also had to buy a plug to put into the end since the INT sticks are usually an inch or two short for me.

        I’ve settled on 75 flex senior sticks as my preference and occasionally go 85 if I can’t find a 75, but my days of buying anything over 85 are over. Those stiff sticks aren’t made for your avg joe even though a lot of guys in my league use them.

        • Herbie if you are going to buy an intermediate stick make sure it is the same shaft thickness as a senior. I’ve seen many intermediate sticks that have smaller shafts and they are not as durable as senior sticks. My brother used one for one game and broke it in the first period on a wrist shot. He is only 150 lbs. so it’s not like he was putting too much weight on it or leaning on it hard. It was just too flimsy.
          I used to use a wood shafted 110 flex when I was working out everyday and I played D so I took a lot of slapshots. Now I’m not in the shape I was 10 years ago and I play the wing so I use a really short 85 flex and it works great.

    • Erin – you’re totally right.

  2. Good read.

    I started at 110 flex with the one-pieces, and then moved to 100 flex after 1 season. Now, about 4+ seasons later, I have worked my way down to 85 flex.

    You could write an entire article on flex alone for rec hockey. We have a smaller guy on my team who uses 110 Flex (because he goes to gym so often) and cuts it off at least 6 inches. Basically it is an unbendable twig.

    For some odd reason in rec league ‘flex’ is still viewed as a sign of masculinity.

    (On a side note, my reducing flex strategy translated to golf as well. Replaced my stiff flex driver shaft with regular flex and relaxed swing to great success)/

  3. Sherwood 5030 Coffey curve. $35 for each twig and will last you a solid month or two.

    • Pfft, I find discounted composites for $80-99 and they last me at least a few months if not more. Plus I get a much better stick to use in the meantime. Today’s mid range composite is as good as the top of the lines from a few years ago, and if you buy them as they’re being discontinued it’s the best deal going.

      The 5030 only exists for people who can’t drop more than $50 at a time, and I get that not everyone has lots of cash to drop on sticks, but it’s a losing proposition in the long term.

      • When I was playing AAA and college club I had all the top of the line composites but now that I’m in the post college part of my life (but not living back with the folks) my budget is a bit more limited.

        Plus, the composites always lost their new stick feel after a month or two as well and that’s when you’re jonesing for another new one. The 5030′s lose their snap in that same time frame but a new piece of lumbar won’t set you back a weekend’s worth of drinking.

        I also recorded my shots with a speed gun and my shots aren’t slower or anything with the wood stick.

    • If you pay attention to sales you can get last year’s top end NHL stick for $150 and they normally last me about a full season.

      $35 x 4 = $140…

    • The 5030 Coffey is a brilliant wood stick and at 1 game a week in a beer league, it lasts half the season. Great curve, not too heavy, and I prefer it to low end composites.

  4. Beer-leaguers who haven’t found that curve or flex they like yet….might be interested in looking into a 2pc shaft/blade setup. While there isn’t quite the variety of models available in a 2pc setup….you can save a lot of money in finding that blade pattern that works best for you. Or even different shaft shapes/flex ratings. There are usually a low end and high end shaft offered from just about every major company.

    As far as flex rating goes….I started off using a 85flex stick, but have now gone to a 75flex. I had a buddy tell me that he prefers to let the stick do the work so he doesn’t have to. It made sense and now I’m a much happier beer leaguer.

    • I agree about the two-piece. I generally wear out my blades (I live in So Cal, so more roller than ice), so I can spend a lot of money on my shaft without worrying about replacing it all the time.

  5. Great post! Had an opportunity to buy a stick used by Dustin Penner. It was $165 which seemed like a lot for a used stick, even though it’s partly souvenir. What struck me was how tall it was- I’m 6’2″ and it came up to my forehead. And completely un-bendable. I didn’t catch the flex # but I’m guessing low 200′s.
    Anyway- thanks for the good info for finding the right stick.

  6. For some reason, beer leaguers think that they can’t go under an 85 flex. They’re always surprised when I tell them that Ovi uses an 80 and Kessel uses a 75. I’ve noticed that companies are starting to make softer flexes while keeping the length/size of the stick the same.

    By the way, if you’re short like me, I would recommend a flat lie (Easton lie 5, Bauer lie 5, Warrior lie 4). And the only stick I’ve seen with a Sakic curve and flat lie is Warrior (Draper lie 4, not sure what the new player name is).

  7. One thing to add is that low flex sticks have a bit more give in receiving a pass, so if you have hands of stone like me or your D’s first pass is somehow harder than their slapshot, a stick with more give help you absorb the puck rather than deflect it into the zone.

    I’m 6’3′”, so naturally as an adult and as an idiot, I bought a sherwood 105 flex extra-long but then sawed about three inches off so I could stickhandle. That thing was like a balance beam for a teen gymnast. I have a 75 flex now and it’s much better.

  8. i tried a 75 flex once and it drove me nuts how noodle like it was.

    100 flex suits my style a lot more.

    Oh and Mr ‘Non-brand specific’ Justin, don’t worry about being pro-Easton. They are the better of the brands and we all know that.

    Don’t think i could live without my S-19.

  9. Hey Justin, any idea if Easton will continue making the 110 flex available in the mid price range sticks? I wouldn’t mind going to $150 or so, but anything more than that is a bit extravagant for me. I’ve tried going with a 100 but they just feel too flimsy (plus, as a dman, too much give when connects with a forward’s ankle… kidding, but only a little).

    Any help on this would be appreciated from a fellow Westside allum.

    Thanks!

  10. Adam Oates would have a field day with this article – or a least some valuable input, his own ugly twig notwithstanding. Almost to a player who have worked with him, he’s always getting them to adjust their sticks. And then there’s this, wherein the author using photo’s of famous players, makes the case that most juniors/amateurs use sticks that are too long. http://www.cuthockeysticks.com/

    • Ah, Erik beat me too it.

      It’s true, being a instructor and coach, I can’t tell you how many times I see kids come on the ice and not be able to properly shoot or stick-handle because their stick was way too long. I used to cut my stick up to my nose off skates, now it has to be at the bottom lip to chin range for me to use it.

      The shorter the stick, the more intight you can stickhandle and it also forces you to bend your knees. It also lets you get your hands out and take shots quicker and increases stick speed as well in passing and stick handling. Sure your slap shot may lose some power on it, but in all honesty, the slap shot isn’t used like it used to be.

  11. The TV show “time warp” did a show on hockey sticks. They had a NHL player on to do the shots and the wood sticks hit faster and flexed better than any other type. They had SUPER SLOW MOTION to prove it. I forget the players name but he said he was switching back to wood sticks!

  12. Sorry same speed less flex. I found a link to part of the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYazLovH7Ok

  13. I got a $50 Adam Foote pro stock S19 non-used from a Pepsi Center sale. It’s beautiful and so freaking open faced I can’t use it. Flex is really stiff but the thing has suck a low kick point that snap shots take no effort. After I started making teammates duck on slapshots I’ve gone back to my Sherwood T90, an absolute tank of a stick. I’m trying to break it, I just can’t.

  14. As someone who’s been a hockey fan for a number of years, but only begun playing rec hockey in the last year, I love these posts, as well as the Rec Hockey Advice posts. Keep ‘em coming!

  15. Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this post
    i thought i could also create comment due to this sensible paragraph.

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