© Copyright 2018 Raymond Ablack, Ryerson University.
How to Look At A Hockey Stick
The hockey stick is practically a household tool, particularly in any Canadian home. It’s usually found leaning steadfastly in an infrequently visited corner of the garage, or buried deep in the back of the closet. It’s an easily accessible and efficient weapon of choice for intruders in the home or, it’s the perfect tool for plying something out of reach. The hockey stick is versatile.
The hockey stick is a simple symbol that is synonymous with Canadian heritage. March 3rd, 1875, in Montreal, marks the date of the first indoor hockey game ever played. Today, hockey is the leading major sport in Canada. Boys and girls enlist every year in minor leagues across the country to play the sport. Hockey is featured prominently in commercials marketing every and anything from coffee to bread. In fact, Sidney Crosby, the Canadian hockey player, has been featured in Canadian commercials for both Tim Horton’s coffee and Dempsters bread. Canadians are often stereotyped in international popular culture as being polite, loving maple syrup, and – with stick in hand, playing hockey.
The current iteration of the hockey stick was invented by Canadian, James Leland Easton. Historically the hockey stick was made from wood, another aspect of Canadian heritage, as wood is one of the country’s greatest exports. A wooden stick allows durability due to the wear and tear and damaging nature of the game. However, today among professional hockey players, there are varying preferences to the weight, length and flexibility of their sticks. NHL teams carry multiple copies of each players stick to each game. And to match the preferences of each individual the manufacturing of hockey sticks has grown scientifically in tandem. Contemporary sticks are made of carbon, thermoplastic, high grade wood and reinforced plastic. Afterwards, each stick receives its personal touch of tape, which tailors it to fit its player. ‘Tape jobs’ vary in design, colour and function. The butt-end of the stick of a defenceman, might feature a thick, obnoxious knob, to serve the function of remaining in the hand of an outstretched arm of the defender in a dire situation. Or, the untaped toe on the stick of a slippery, sniping forward serves to release their shot most quickly off the polished veneered toe.
Mine is a goalie stick. It’s got a thick bottom half, like a paddle. It’s butt end has the most obnoxiously thick knob of tape that I could fashion, so it can be held with certainty when making the desperation play of ‘poke-checking’ the puck away from oncoming opposition. The entire blade of the stick is taped, so I have the best ‘grip’ of the puck in close quarters. Even the name brand of the stick has been partially covered in a tape, war paint. Looking more closely though, the stick is nicked and chipped in places, exposing its wooden interior against the paint and laminate cover. The tape has been redone, many times and hastily (you can tell) and in different colours. The tape is severed from the lashing of pucks, where it jumbles and juts out of place. It’s also visibly dented, likely from impacts during gameplay that have warped its shape. The whole piece is gnarly and aged. It looks like it has the personality of a stubborn, conservative accountant. And in reflection, a goalie stick with that character is who I would want to protect my team’s net in a hockey game. Calculating and sacrificing itself to serve the team. This stick looks to have served admirably and often.
Patents, Google. “US3934875A – Hockey Stick.” Google Patents, Google, patents.google.com/patentUS3934875A/en.
Vaughan, Garth. “Origin Overview.” The-Birthplace-of-Hockey, The Birthplace of Hockey, 1999, www.birthplaceofhockey.com/origin/overview
Elkins, James. “How to Use Your Eyes.” Academia.edu – Share Research, www.academia.edu/5544904/How_to_Use_Your_Eyes.
- Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.