Archive for the rbk o stick Category
If I had to use one word to describe the hockey equipment industry in 2007 it would be corporate. I guess what I’m saying is gone are the medium size companies that moved the industry (well, actually to me they were huge) when I started nearly 20 years ago replaced by multi brand conglomerates where, sometimes although not always, hockey is a very, very small part of what they do. So, what’s the result? Well, I guess just like every other business; to make money. I have no issue with that and in fact anyone who’s not in business to make money is a darned fool. However, the newest way of generating sales is where I have issue. The new way of getting products on retailers shelves is constant introduction of new models, new color variations, and “limited edition” versions of existing products. I think for the consumer, it’s like Christmas every few months when the next big thing hits but for the retailer it’s a nightmare. Honestly, I think in the end it’s not good for anyone.
Take a look at the 2008 items already available or scheduled to land soon (by 2008 product I typically mean product that was not listed in any 2007 catalogues): The RBK O Stick, RBK 7K Crosby stick, RBK 7K Sickick 08 stick, CCM Vector 10.0 08 stick, Nike Bauer Vapor XXXX stick, Nike Bauer Vapor XXV stick, Nike Bauer Vapor XVI stick, Easton Stealth S17 stick, Mission Fuel Ti Pro stick, TPS Summit 7 leg pad, catcher, and blocker, Nike Bauer One95 Leg pads, catcher and blocker, and on and on. What that means is all of these were available just recently or will be just before holidays. So, where’s the problem? There’s a thing called buyers remorse which means right after you purchase what you understand to be the newest, hottest product out there only for it to be one upped weeks later. I can sit here and tell you all thats wrong with this (like killing product loyalty) but this is how things will be from here on out.
I have more a problem with limited edition colors etc. Every year someone from one of our suppliers will come to me with a “hot new color” of a popular stick, skate, etc. I typically rebuke them as I’m more a substance over style sort of guy and won’t make inventory risks on something based on color if the old color worked just fine. Sometimes I can get away with it, sometimes my hand is forced. I definitely take an old school approach to hockey. When I played the player with the newest stuff that stood out was the guy you went after. I always considered hockey players to be tough guys. The idea of someone playing hockey not buying, say, a stick because they want the green and not the red, or sitting at a computer terminal designing their own stick colors with their name on it, that just didn’t happen. It’s a brave new world people.
What’s my bottom line? I have no idea. As a business man, I think it’s a negative trend as (just look around all the usual websites) it causes all sorts of overages and markdowns which means many of the same retailers will have neither the space nor money to get the next new thing. It’s what we call a self fulfilling prophecy. For the parent of a hockey player, it’s also a nightmare if you don’t have a money tree growing in your backyard. BUT, if your a kid who eats, drinks, and sleeps hockey, well, it’s the best of times. Well, that is until that skate or stick you fell in love with has been replaced by one you hate…welcome to hockey in 2007
Wow, hockey season really caught up on me and I’ve been derelict in my blogging duties. So, I present to you the third and final, highly anticipated (ok, it’s actually gone on at least 2 blogs too many) part of our discussion on composite hockey sticks (and as there have been no real comments it’s more a lecture then a conversation). We’ve covered the origins, the present, and the most important features in selecting a stick so let’s finish it off with popular misconceptions and rumors and, in the end, are they really worth the money.
1) Composite sticks last longer then wood sticks- Negative. A composite stick MAY last longer then a wood stick but can break just as quickly. The bottom line is hockey is a rough sport and sticks are going to break. In fact, they HAVE to break for safety reasons alone. The thought of an unbreakable stick (from a business standpoint it will happen right around the time of the 100 miles to the gallon engine) is scary in the amount of damage it could cause to the skater or an opponent could be significant.
2) More expensive composite sticks last longer then cheaper composite sticks- Wrong. My experience is most of the new, lower priced, lower performance sticks last quite a bit longer then the premium sticks. This is because they have a higher fiberglass content. On the other hand they play like a fiberglass stick…and that’s not a compliment.
3) You will get off a much better shot with a composite stick-Yes and no. It will always be the shooter not the stick. But, on a slapper or one-timer, the same player will typically see increased velocity with a high performance composite stick. That and lighter weight and better consistency is what you buy a composite stick for. Period. As far as passing and wristers many feel wood still works better but most importantly no matter what the material those 2 skills are more affected by the proper lie, flex and curve.
4) The price on premium composite sticks is going to come down- I don’t see it. The relatively high price of the RBK O Stick is proof of this. The bottom line is most manufacturers have moved stick production overseas to keep the cost from increasing more. Realistically, a lot of $100 and down sticks you now see use the technology that the $150 and up sticks used less then 5 years ago so you can get a decent stick at a decent price now. No, there is only one way the price of the premium sticks is coming down…get rid of the warranty. Yes, yes, I know, without that safety blanket people will be rioting in the streets but hear me out. The warranty was the most ill conceived notion ever. When the original composite sticks came out they needed the warranty to sell the sticks as the average wood stick was about $22. Ever since then the companies have been forced to roll the cost of the warranty into the price of the sticks. Company’s like Easton spend well over $1,000,000 a year in return postage alone and if you don’t think that cost, plus the cost of the replacement itself and the issues with falsified receipts (note the new authentication system on the new Easton Synergy Elite) have all driven the cost upwards. My idea? Offer a non-warranty stick for 1/3 to 1/2 less and let people take their chances. But, hey, what do I know
5) You can “save” a composite 1-piece stick by cutting the broken blade off and “repairing it”- Totally bad idea. If you want to try and get more out if it, flip it over and put a $20 or less wood blade in it and use it as a back up or pond stick. Simply put once it’s broken, it’s broken and to invest any money back in it is foolhardy. These are precision tools and altering them in any way changes everything about them. I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow but it’s the cold, hard, truth
So, in conclusion, are premium composite sticks worth their price? Hard to say. I think for the reduced weight, consistency, and added velocity on certain shots they are worth every penny for a high level player. If you are buying one for durability, they are NOT worth it. They are quite simply the next evolution in the hockey stick much in the way composite tennis racquet’s and golf shafts and heads have changed those sports. When people ask me I tell the, between $150-$200 for a competitive player, $100-$150 for recreational and wood below that (yes there are adult composite sticks for $60-$70 but in my opinion wood plays much better). The bottom line of the whole thing is a good stick will give a good player a competitive advantage but not necessarily a better player so worry more about your shooting skills and less about the trendiest new stick