Many high level players prefer a Pro Stock Stick. Find out why, and how it differs from one that you would purchase in a store.
A Pro Stock model stick is a custom built composite made specifically for a certain professional player (also made for College and Major Junior players). In most cases this refers to the curve, flex profile, and length, but can affect things like weight distribution and lie angle. There is no doubt that they can be a great purchase, if you can find one that is the right curve and flex.
I get a lot of questions from customers, so here is an outline of the major differences between pro stock and retail:
The liveliness or responsiveness of a stick, and how long it stays that way will alter dramatically between a cheap vs. expensive stick. The same can be said for a pro stock in relation to retail, it is not as dramatic a difference but nevertheless a Pro stock will typically remain responsive for longer. This is accomplished by either using more or slightly different composite material to increase the performance of the professional model stick.
Professional players need a stick that can withstand abuse and the demands of the elite level game. How many times have we seen a broken stick ruin or create a scoring opportunity? I have heard several claims that a Pro Stock is 40% more reinforced, but I don't think it can be quantified in a percentage. I do however believe that it is clearly evident that a majority of Pro Stock sticks are built to be more durable then their retail counterpart.
Retail sticks come with a stock curve pattern, flex, and length so that you know what you are getting. In the past they were all defined by players, but players change brands and become less relevant over time and people tend to want a similar pattern to what's working for them, so they designated pattern numbers as well (Ex. Bauer uses P92, P88, etc.)
Custom built pro stocks come in all sorts of patterns, flex, and length. The good thing for Pro Stock buyers is that most players, especially at the lower levels still use stock models and the pattern number and flex comes printed on the stick. (Note: we designed a pattern classification system to categorize different blade types - which works for Retail and Pro Models)
Despite the fact that retail sticks are more consistent customers enjoy the longer sticks, higher flexes, new pattern styles, and sometime even the associated name printed on the stick (we have numerous NHL level players sticks).
The increased material in the Pro Stock sticks do tend to make them slightly heavier than the retail models. However it is a balanced weight so the sticks still feel great (most players wouldn’t notice the difference).
The biggest advantage of a retail stick is that it generally comes with a 30 day manufactures warranty. The problem is how often does your stick break within the first 30 days? Also, many hockey stick customers complain about the current warranty process. No longer can you take it back to the store but rather must pay a shipping fee for the stick to send it to the manufacturer, and have to wait on the stick (I personally have had numerous customers just come into our shop and get it repaired instead, as they don’t have time to wait).
Also if it’s a hot new stick it might be on backorder, therefore you don’t get the stick until it comes in, or they are no longer making that stick and they have to send you something else. Having said that these companies do work with you to ensure you get a suitable replacement and sometimes they even send you an upgrade.
So as you can see there are some clear advantage and disadvantages of both.
My recommendation to customers is if they can find a good deal on Pro Stock sticks to buy multiples of the same stick. This way they are playing with the best possible stick, it’s less likely to break and if it does, I have a replacement right away. By purchasing a number of them at the reduced rate you have effectively created your own warranty replacement should one break, and don’t have to get used to a new make/model each time you get a new stick. Now this is pretty easy for me to say, I sell them! But good advice all the same.