The First Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is now well underway, and we (along with the rest of the hockey world) have had a blast watching. The difference is that when we watch, we can't help but fixate on the gear the players are using - hazards of working in the industry!
One of the most interesting things we keep an eye out for is players using anything but the latest release gear. This is very common in the NHL for a number of reasons. First and foremost, hockey players are creatures of habit. These guys have reached the top level of their profession, and often don't want to change up the tools of the trade that have gotten them that far. In many cases, a player will figure out what they like while playing in Junior or College, then never upgrade again, besides maybe updating the graphic or getting a stiffer stick as they get stronger.
The other factor is that the differences in gear from year to year can be pretty minute. Major brands like CCM and Bauer are currently releasing 3 or more new sticks a year, along with the associated gear. It can be tough to keep up, and it's tough to believe they are making major changes each and every season, so some players just don't bother.
When major changes are made (ie the Tacks line moving to a new "V" shaft shape), uptake among NHL pros might be even lower. We find that pro players are very reluctant to take a leap of faith and put their livelihood in the hands of a product they aren't familiar with, at least not until it's been around few a few seasons to get thoroughly tested out and popularized.
All of this leads to some of the best players in the world not using the "latest, greatest" gear like you might expect. Here are some of our favourite examples from the first round of the NHL Playoffs:
Jack Eichel - Bauer Supreme 1S 2.0 Stick (2017)
Eichel is one of the league's most prominent users of an older model stick, loyally using his Supreme 1S'17 graphic for the past few seasons (often with an even older MX3 build). Using past years' models is often associated with old-school, no-nonsense players, but Eichel is a good example of a younger, flashier player who does it as well.
Vince Dunn - CCM Ribcor Trigger 3D Stick (2018) and CCM HGCL [U+ Crazy Light] Gloves (2011)
A champion with St. Louis in 2019, Dunn has used his Trigger 3D ever since. If it worked then, why not now? Dunn is also one of a number of players who still wears CCM HGCL gloves, a pro stock version of the retail U+ Crazy Light that was first released in 2011. Despite their age, this style of glove is a classic fit, and is still worn by players like Seth Jones, Brent Burns, Jason Robertson, along with Dunn.
Phil Kessel - Bauer Vapor X90 Skates (2013)
Not only are Phil the Thrill's skates a decade old, they weren't even top of the line when they were released! The X90 was the 3rd tier Vapor skate that season, behind the X100 and flagship APX2, but have made themselves a favourite of Kessel. Phil is known for some unique specs in all his gear, so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised he's still using these relics.
John Klingberg - Warrior Luxe Gloves (2010)
John Klingberg's Warrior Luxe gloves are a classic. When Warrior entered hockey as a lacrosse brand, they used inspiration from their popular line of Luxe lacrosse gloves for these. Though they are now all but extinct in the NHL, they have stuck around for more than a decade on players like Jason Spezza. One of our favourite unique features of Luxe gloves is that the brand name on the cuff is printed not stitched, giving them a very retro vibe.
David Krejci - Bauer Vapor 1X Lite Pro Gloves (2018)
After being out of the league for a few seasons, Krejci came back like he never left: in a pair of 2018 Vapor 1X Lite gloves. Though they are far from old (and still a favourite of HSM customers), it is somewhat surprising to see them in the NHL given that two newer models of Vapor gloves have since been released (2X Pro and Hyperlite).
Nathan MacKinnon - CCM Ribcor Trigger 3D (2018)
Nate MacKinnon is another high profile case of a player who prefers older model twigs. Though he has tested out some other graphics, Nate Dogg always seems to keep coming back to the Trigger 3. We had a number of his sticks in recently, check them out!
Connor McDavid - CCM Jetspeed Skates (2015)
The NHL's best player proves every single night that you don't need the most expensive skates to be the best skater. The Con Man still uses his 2015 Jetspeed skate, despite there now being several new installments in the series, including the unreleased FT6 Pro that CCM would no doubt love to have McDavid showing off in the playoffs. McDavid also uses an original SuperTacks stick until this season (and we wouldn't be surprised if he ends up going back), and we know you've already seen the picture of his ratty old skate socks!
Steven Stamkos - Bauer Supreme 2S Pro Stick (2018)
Stammer is another guy who has been using the same stick for a long time. Eventually the stockpile may run dry, but until then we have grown accustomed to seeing Stamkos on the ice with his Supreme 2S Pro graphic over the pro-only G3 build.
Vladimir Tarasenko - CCM Ribcor Reckoner Stick (2015) & CCM Ribcor 80K Skates (2019)
Had the Penguins made the playoffs, this might be Sidney Crosby's gear we were showing off, but instead it's another Reckoner user: Vlad Tarasenko. The Russian winger has preferred this stick for years, and also uses a couple of year old pair of jets: the Ribcor 80K.