I get a variation of this question each and every day. If you've never played with a top end stick you won’t know what I’m talking about, but if you have then you’re screwed. You've drank the cool aide and now there is no going back…..
I find that there is a lot of incorrect information out there ant that people are often miss-lead and can become increasingly frustrated with their purchase. Brands typically have an established line and release a new model every 1-2 years, when they do they roll them out at different price points. Here is a quick summary overview:
Expensive sticks (Top of the Line - $250 - $300) – Feature high grade carbon composite materials that are custom engineered using advanced technology to maximize feel and performance of a hockey stick. They are true one-piece sticks, are extremely lightweight and balanced, and have a lot of ‘pop/whip’. The blades are also designed to be lightweight and balance with the shaft, to enhance the feel of the puck on the stick, and to be able to deliver quick release shots. Advanced shooters can get the most out of top end (expensive sticks) but everyone can see these benefits. All professional level players use a pro stock reinforced version of these model sticks.
Cheap sticks (Most basic models in the line - $50 - $80) – Built with an increased amount of material, use a lower end composite, and the finished product is full of resin. As a result they are significantly more weight and are usually quite bottom heavy. Basic models lack most of the special features and technology that make the composite stick advantageous. They are two piece sticks fused together and usually come with a simple mid flex and have very little ‘pop/whip’. These are probably the most durable sticks available within the lineup.
Everything else ($80 - $200) – There are usually 2-3 other models in a hockey stick line. The feel and performance increase with the price and the weight and durability tend to decrease. This is the range where the majority of people buy their sticks. They are almost always two piece sticks fused together and can be subject to getting ‘whipped out’ or ‘loosing its pop’ more quickly. That being said they can feel quite nice, deliver decent “pop/whip”, and some can be quite durable.
Now ---- what you really need to know:
- Do not buy an expensive stick hoping that the investment means you will get more time with it -- your paying for performance
- You will get better performance from a top end stick – regardless of your skill level. Too often people say “I’m not a great player” or “I just play pickup”, and my pet peeve is when I see a stick model being marketed to the type of hockey you play or your skill level. I’m not a good driver, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the luxury and features of driving a nice car, and if I have the chance I would drive the best. Even if you just play once a week you probably love it and there is an element of compete in you, therefore you want to be able to feel the puck as best as possible and shoot it as hard and as accurately as any stick will allow.
- You won’t get what I’m talking about until you’ve played with a top end stick. Then you won’t be able to go back.
- Naturally better players will be able to get more out of the features of a top end stick, but are more apt to breakage. While at the same time it’s important to understand that there is no guarantee on how long they will last, regardless of skill level.
- The increased performance that you get from a new top end make/model from year to year is very minimal
The absolute best are the top end pro stock composites. They are so good that I sell thousands of refurbished makes/models across North America every year. For those customers who have never played with one, it usually becomes the best stick they have ever had.