November 12, 2011
Most hockey fans would agree that there's little more infuriating than when their team opens up a perfect shooting lane for a one-timer at the blueline, but when the puck comes, the point man's stick snaps right in half as he steps into it.
Even watching at home alone, you can almost hear the collective groans of the fanbase as the puck slides into the neutral zone, the discarded stick shaft slides into the corner, and the opposition starts back the other way on an odd-man rush.
It's often tough to find a bright side in a situation like that, but it's not impossible, especially if you're Fountain Valley, California's Jim Pull, who repurposes broken NHL sticks into canes for the disabled.
The awesomest thing I've heard all week comes courtesy Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register:
The man produces canes, possibly the hippest canes in the world. He makes them from broken hockey sticks. The shaft of the old stick becomes the shaft of the new cane, complete with whatever tape job the owner originally applied.
"The reaction usually is, 'Oh, my God. That's so cool,'" Pull says. "'That's the coolest cane.'"
Okay, so my reaction is the standard one. Because that really is the coolest..
Cooler still is the fact that Pull doesn't make a dime from producing the canes, instead giving them away to war veterans and children.
Granted, that wasn't originally the plan. Initially, Pull had dreams of making a killing off the idea, especially in Canada, where the freaking prime minister once drew criticism for trying to get free Winnipeg Jets tickets. Good call: Canada would have loved these canes.
Unfortunately, the canes couldn't be sold. A diehard Anaheim Ducks fan, Pull made his first prototypes from discarded Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu(notes) sticks. But, when he brought them to the league, he ran into legal issues:
So he contacted the NHL, where ch-ching quickly turned into ch-clang. He was told there are licensing restrictions and regulations about using logos and sponsorship agreements to honor and ... basically, enough red tape to strangle the American dream.
Pull's solution. He'd start a charity and give away the canes. A year later, Canes 4 Vets, Inc. was born.
Full credit to Pull for keeping with the idea even after he realized there was no money to be had in it. Unlike the team in Carolina, these canes are pure win.
And yet, Pull has struggled to get the league fully behind the idea. As it stands, most of his sticks are coming from private donors.
That's silly. Unless the broken sticks are being fed to some sort of doomsday robot that needs them for fuel, I can't see why the league would remain opposed to repurposing them into walking canes for war vets and kids. I'm just spitballin', but it seems like that might be preferable to throwing them in the trash, right?
s/t to Kukla's Korner.