While many hockey players are familiar with the unfathomably wide array of sticks available on the market today, fewer are aware of what exactly goes into the construction of your average stick. Any brief glance at a professional game highlights the vast degree to which sticks have not only evolved, but grown more and more unique in their shape over time. So how does a plank of wood turn into a high tech composite? A closer look at the history of the game helps give us some answers.
What we cover:
Early Hockey Sticks
The first hockey sticks ever created in the early 1900s were almost entirely drawn from planks of wood in Nova Scotia’s ironwood trees. These were the solid, carved in one piece, “oh my god my back’s about to break” sticks that were used by the earliest founders of the game up until the 1920s when two piece models were first introduced.
Two-piece models emerged as a more customizable alternative to one piece sticks by offering sticks where blades could be inserted and glued in junction with wooden shafts. These were usually made from the classic trees of the American Northeast: laminated birch, maple, and/or aspen.
Introduction of Composite Sticks
By the turn of the 20th Century, wooden sticks had grown too heavy and restrictive for the rapidly growing pace of the game. An endorsement deal with the Great One, a.k.a Wayne Gretzky, in the 1990s introduced the first ever aluminium-based shaft and wooden blade combo. The rest of the league, in a desperate effort to catch up with Gretzky’s sty, basically followed suit.
What’s in a Composite?
Composite sticks today are by and large the most popular choice among professional and high level players. They do a solid job approximating the feel and flexibility of wood while maintaining the lightweight feel of aluminum. So what goes into these sticks?
- Shaft: threads of woven carbon fiber (up to 15 sheets) are coated in plastic, layered in opposite directions to form hollow, composite shafts.
- Blade: Hard foam plastic is wrapped in layers of graphite until blade shape is formed. Once the blade is shaped for its specific curvature and angle, it gets glued to the shaft.
Add in a little sanding and a paint job, and there you have it: a composite stick. Not so complicated after all.