Thursday, May 22, 2008


Broken Sticks My Break My Stones

Another email from my Southern Correspondent brought up the topic of broken sticks and any potential hazard they may bring.

Several weeks ago, MLB commish Bud Selig said he would look into doing something about maple bats; specifically, when they break, they can become health hazards...I can't count how many times I've seen a broken bat barrel stick into the ground like a javelin, and last night, a broken barrel almost hit Braves' third baseman Larry Wayne Jones when he was trying to field a grounder.

What does this have to do with hockey?

Over the past few seasons, I've seen too many times when Ilya Kovalchuk winds up for one of his slapshots and the stick breaks. Over the course of a game, you'll see about a dozen broken sticks on the ice -- and these guys are now using composite sticks (no wood). Years ago, a broken stick was a rarity...Maybe something needs to be done about hockey sticks as well...

This also seems to happen a lot to Mattias Ohlund (I have nothing to back that up, but that's my observation), and is certainly a LOT more commonplace than it was back in the days of Al Iafrate.

Are the composite sticks to blame, since they are the ones that seem to break all the damn time? Yes, somewhat.

From what I've heard and read over the years, the biggest problems with the new sticks are that it is much harder for a player to tell if it is cracked and/or compromised.

With a good old wooden stick, it's pretty damn easy to know if the thing is slightly cracked as it feels different and even sounds different. The new sticks just seem to hide the cracks better, so players are more likely to keep playing with their composite sticks, not knowing that they are at risk of having it break in their hands.

One other factor is that teams do not want to pay for too many of these sticks, so they are less likely to want to use new ones until the old ones are completely worn or broken.

As for safety, I haven't seen a lot of broken sticks causing injuries or coming close to doing so. The only danger is having a goal scoring against the team that had the misfortune of another stick getting buh-roke.


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