The most important tool to any hockey player, is of course, the hockey stick. The modern stick as we know it was invented in the 1920's, and has seen numerous redesigns and been modified by technology in its near 100-year existence.
Sticks were originally created from maple or willow trees, which gave way in the 1940's to the laminated stick - pieces of wood glued together - to allow for more durability and flexibility. Since then, the introduction of fiberglass, composite sticks, carbon fiber and most recently, kevlar, have made the stick virtually weight-less.
Picking the correct one, however, can be confusing if not properly informed. To get you started here are a few pointers:
The length of the stick needed will differ depending upon size, preference and the players position. A defenseman will typically use a longer stick, allowing him to have a longer reach to deflect pucks and block passes. A benchmark rule for finding a stick is to measure the stick while standing on your toes, which makes you as tall as you would be on skates. While on your toes, the stick should come to the tip of your nose. Of course, any stick can be cut down, but it is still important the stick should be the right height.
Moving to the offensive end, forwards generally use a shorter stick to help keep the puck close to their body and have better control. A forwards stick should come to just below the chin, and even shorter if you should choose. Of course these are just guidelines; it all depends on preference.
The flex of a stick is vital in shooting and passing a puck. The flex - the stiffness of the stick - ranges anywhere from as low as 60 to as high as 130. The lower the flex the more flexible it is, the higher the number the more stiff.
It is recommended bigger players use a higher flex because they generally put more weight behind a shot. A stick with more flex is generally reserved for players who like to take slap shots or stronger players, while a lower flex gives players the whip-like action for quick wrist shots.
The curvature of the blade depends strictly on preference, but you can't ignore its importance. Depending on the player, some like the blade very curved, while some go for a straight blade, but the best way to judge is to look at and try out different curves. Some blades will curve more at the heel, while some will flip off at the curve, so be patient and see whats out there.
Finally, the durability of a hockey stick is something that often gets overlooked, but is crucial. To often, D-men break their sticks going for a one-timer or attempting to give a breakout pass. And while sometimes nothing can be done to prevent this, there are some tips that can be used to get the most durable stick.
While it is true the new composite, carbon fiber stick are light and very popular, they are also among the sticks that break most often. The stick being so light, however, means the material is very thing and can break easily. And not to mention the carbon fiber sticks could cost upwards of $200.
Sadly, the wood hockey stick is becoming a relic with each passing, but that doesn't mean to give them a look. Wood sticks, while heavier than the composite model, are among the most durable sticks on the market. Also, a good wood stick will only set you back around $50 to $70. Some of the best brands of sticks to look at are Easton and CCM. If interested in wood stick, your best bet is Sherwood.