July 14, 2011
When it comes to dolling up our hockey sticks, most of us have our own special way to get things feeling just right. A pro stick rack is a testament to the various opinions out there on what makes a twig function best.
It takes awhile to come to a final conclusion on what your bread and butter is after years of experimenting. (Remember that crazy night in college you tried to tape your blade horizontally? Yeesh.) But once you get there, you just know it.
I got there around my senior year at UAA, and I'll never go back.
Today I'm going to discuss what I settled on, and we can bat around what about my choices makes me an idiot, and why your set-up is better. Fun!
I like a healthy….OK, a really healthy no-loft curve. I grew up using the Coffey (Sherwood PMP) and Yzerman (Easton) curves, which were basically the same hook Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) was rumored to have his friends buying out of retail shops for him because the Atlanta Thrashers (wisely) wouldn't buy him the illegal curve he liked years ago.
The point was, I wanted a toe-curve, a solid C-shape so I could cut hard without it rolling off my toe, take lazy snappers that came off the blade hot, and take passes on the forehand without thinking about it. Sure, it impaired my backhand and ability to take passes on my backhand, but I could get it up under the bar from in tight, and how many long distance backhander goals do most guys get?
As for catching passes on the back of the reverse "C" (I'm a righty), my Dad taught me to take them one-handed and let the weight of the stick deaden the pass, so I got that figured out too.
From there, I used the whitest of white tape. Not Renfrew, which is a fine brand, but it was off-white in comparison. No, I used the gleaming Andover stuff. Canadians grew up thinking Renfrew is the best (as I once did, a Canadian myself), but I was introduced to Andover which is whiter and rips cleaner, so it doesn't leave you with those annoying long stringy pieces on the side of the tape.
Some people think that "black tape hides the puck" from goalies or whatever, but I'm pretty sure I never scored a goal in my entire life because I was using black tape (which I did up until my sophomore year in college) that I wouldn't have with white tape, and I preferred the look of the white. It's like a golf club — you have to look down and like what you see.
From there, paraffin wax is a must — you simply can't have snow build-up on the bottom of your blade when you're going cheese with a wrister, and you want the tape to last in pristine condition for as long as possible. I applied it heavier on the bottom and lighter on the top, because…what's the point of putting any wax on the top at all, really?
Oh, and I forgot something about the tape: I'm a half-ripper. If you've never tried the half-rip, do so immediately (just make sure you half-rip the right side so it's not the frayed edges that are visible). I did this from heel all the way over the toe, and cut the excess from the toe with scissors.
My question to some of you: What's the point of not taping the entire blade?
One-piece blades are slippery, so there's no control in spots if you don't. Cover that S.O.B. up.
(Quick explanation on why you should try the half-rip: more ridges, more control over the puck, more spin, it's just…better. I think it allowed me to feel where the puck was on my blade better too. Then again, I'm neurotic, and it's possible none of those things are true.)
I cut my sticks short because I struggle handling passes near my feet with a longer one. Whatever length I chose, I usually cut it really, really poorly, so I'd have to file down an edge or two before re-inserting the cap.
When I take a slapshot I pull back hard with my top hand, to that point where if I practice slappers with no shoulder pads I'll hurt my chest. That meant I needed a pretty good size knob to grip on to (here's where I need to insert Cabbie on the Street's hilarious-if-immature "knob" interviews, starting around 2:38), so I built that up by doing the old-fashioned spin-the-tape-then-wrap-it move. Also in white tape, of course — easier on the gloves, looks better.
And, you need to personalize that thing with some identifying marks — I ranked my sticks with a sharpie so I knew during the games which one to yell down the bench for my trainer to grab, and I chucked my No. 12 on the knob … 12 times.
If for some reason I was out of grip sticks, I'd use the broken stick with the tape wrapped around it inside-out (the names for that thing are not to be mentioned here) and give it a couple passes over my new weapon to make the stick less slick.
Phew. That was a lot.
Like I said, my tastes might not be for you, but I'm awfully uncomfortable if I have to use anything other than what I just described. I have a hunch that some of you weirdos might do stuff like use grip-less sticks (shudder) or straight blades (cringe), but if it works for you, it works for you.
So tell us here at Puck Daddy: What's your style?