From a 2010 article found on fortheloveofhockey.com:
How long should your kids’ hockey sticks be? You may as well ask how long their hair should be.
Basically, it’s whatever they (not you) are comfortable with (within reason), with the caveat that if the stick’s a tad too long today they’ll grow into it (like that sweater you bought them for Christmas).
It’s one of the questions coaches hear the most in tyke, atom, peewee and beyond.
And when they outgrow a stick you can lengthen it with a wooden plug on the end. (Try that with the sleeves on a sweater.)
“The longer the stick you have the longer your reach, obviously,”Ryan Shannon said after scoring two goals in three games for the Canucks earlier this season, earning a demotion to the farm in Manitoba. “But with a really long stick you’re sacrificing feel and the amount of control you have, so there’s always a fine line.”
Bare bones, the shorter the stick the better puck control a player has; the longer the stick, the better to check with.
Let’s start with the long ones — and not with the player on the Canucks you think of first: Willie Mitchell and his league-maximum 63-inch shaft.
No, it’s Canuck newcomer Mike Weaver — all 5-foot-9 of him.
When the right-hand-shooting defenceman arrived in Vancouver after being claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh, his hockey gear was a day behind him.
So he borrowed a stick from one of the few other right-handed shooters on the team: 6-foot-4 Trevor Linden.
“His stick was off by about five inches,” Weaver, seven inches shorter than Linden, says. “It was completely off. My stick’s taller than his.”
The knob of (Mike) Weaver’s stick reaches his hairline when the tip of the toe is on the ice. That’s on skates.
“Hey, I’m a defensive defenceman,” Weaver says. “My main job’s to stop pucks so having a short stick is really not going to help me. And I don’t have the hardest slapshot, but I’m able to get it away pretty quick.
“If you’re able to juggle it that you’re able to do both things at once, that’s great.”
Weaver’s stick actually used to be taller than him, by almost two inches, but he felt he needed to cut it a bit to improve his shot. “At the same time, I’ve still got that length I need.”
Up front, among the skill guys, it’s a different story.
Needing to work the puck close to their feet and avoid the other guy’s stick — the opposite of trying to whack the puck away — the sticks of centremen in particular are found to be anywhere from chest high to about the bottom lip.
“I’ve got a short stick, way below the chin,” Flyers sniper Simon Gagne says.
It didn’t always used to be.
When he was young he cut it to nose level because coaches told him he’d have a better shot with a longer stick.
“As time went on, I adjusted to what I was comfortable with when you get the puck,” Gagne says. “If my stick’s too short my head will be down. I want to have a good shot. I’ve found it, in the middle — not too short, not too long.”
And, with 88 goals over the past two seasons, not too bad.
“It’s working fine for me,” he says, smiling.
Brendan Morrison is another guy who’s found a happy medium — which is about chin-high, a stick length he’s had for as long as he can remember.
“I have a bit of a reach being a guy, I guess, who’s a little bit smaller,” Morrison says. “But it’s not so long where you can’t handle the puck in tight.”
A master at handling the puck in tight is, of course, Henrik Sedin.
He and his brother Daniel (Sedin) have cut about three inches off the length of their sticks since they arrived in the NHL seven seasons ago, he says.
Their sticks now come up to about their collarbones, with Daniel’s being perhaps a couple of millimetres longer.
“My first couple of years here, with a longer stick, it was tough to handle the puck in the corners,” Henrik says. “When you get it in your feet there’s not a lot of room with a longer stick.”
The award for all-time shortest stick by a Canuck, however, probably goes to Cliff Ronning.
Forget the collarbone, his sticks were lucky to make it to the sternumwhen he graduated from the New Westminster Bruins.
“When I played junior hockey it was really short,” the former centre says. “Like mid-chest, it was crazy.
“When I got to the pro level, the guys were stronger and I needed a little more reach, but it was still fairly short, mostly for puck control, stickhandling.
“It’s much harder to control a longer hockey stick.”
TRUTH AND LIES, BY CLIFF RONNING
Just as important as length is the lie — the angle where the shaft and blade meet.
A 5-lie is about a 45-degree angle, a 6-lie about 47 degrees.
Each increase in lie brings the top of the shaft about 1 1/4 inches forward over the blade, so a lower-lie stick is good for players who carry the puck out front and a higher lie is better for players who play with the puck close to their skates.
Put another way, if you skate upright use a higher lie; if you skate down low use a lower lie.
“There are times a player thinks he’s using the right stick, but you can see it’s not the right stick,” Cliff Ronning said one day watching the Canucks practise. “He’ll lose the puck in certain situations.”
Ronning is now a rep for Warrior hockey sticks and was one of the best puck handlers the game has seen.
“Guys who are fancier stickhandlers have a higher lie because they pull the puck into their feet, guys like Ovechkin,” Ronning said. “Forsberg is the best example of a higher lie. He played with the puck in his feet so much and would hold you off with one hand.”
You won’t mistake Mike Weaver for Peter Forsberg.
“For reaching purposes my lie is pretty flat,” the Canucks defenceman said. “It allows me to reach out and still keep my blade flat on the ice.”
Thank you very much,
The Eleven Hockey Team
Share with friends:June 01, 2012