Last week we talked about the evolution of hockey sticks, once an all wooden tool now all but extinct. That led to this week's poll question (see right hand column): Should we return to all wooden sticks?
I find it interesting that the majority of people would like to see us return to the twig. I do not think we would see the same level of support if the question asked if we should return to all straight blades as well.
Stan Mikita's experimenting with a curved stick blade was every bit as an important advancement in hockey as today's composite sticks. Despite his and teammate Bobby Hull's extensive experimenting with the curved stick, it was frowned upon heavily by the hockey establishment. Much more dismissed than today's technological stick advancements.
The curving of the stick blade is one of the most important advancements in hockey history. It had many detractors in it's day, much like today's composite sticks which are undeniably having a significant impacting hockey. Since it may be too late to go back anyways, maybe we should embrace change. One day we may look back and realize stick evolution is a good thing.
The defining moment will always be the day Wayne Gretzky, the game's greatest scorer, switched from wood to aluminum, popularizing the switch from twigs to new age sticks. That Gretzky led the way is odd, in that he rarely fussed over his old wooden Titan stick he used so famously in Edmonton.
Here's a passage from Bruce Dowbiggin's amazing book The Stick: A history, a celebration, an elegy:
"Ironically, one of the most indiscriminate stick users was the best offensive player the game has seen. Grateful stick representatives called Gretzky the ultimate zero-maintenance guy. Gretzky tore apart NHL scoring records in his early days using a white Titan TPM 2020, which has been described as "a log," "a rock," and "a railway tie." 'Did you ever see one of Gretz's sticks?' asks an NHL equipment man. 'There's no one today who would use it.' "That is just one countless great quotes in one of the best hockey books ever written. Keeping with our recent stick theme, I have reviewed the book over at Hockey Book Reviews.com.