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