Hockey sticks made from composite are a player’s tool of choice because of their lightness, strength, feel and flexibility. That gives players choice: professionals love how their chosen brand can be customized precisely for them, within the regulations of the league, giving them exactly the flex, feel and the curve they need to do their jobs brilliantly.
But with flexibility comes vulnerability. It’s hard to watch an NHL game without seeing at least one stick being broken. Hockey analyst and former player and coach, Don Cherry lit into the stick manufacturers, saying calling the amount of broken sticks “a joke” and “criminal” and says that “something needs to be done about it!” You can see the video below (starting at 5:00)
Some players have even developed a stick breaking reputation – some as high as seven per game!!! The only ones benefitting from broken sticks are the stick manufacturers. It’s hard on the pocketbook and it certainly isn’t great for the environment since carbon fibre is material that isn’t recyclable.
That problem is hitting the radar of professional teams and it’s something the Montreal Canadiens are trying to do something about. As far back as 2007, the Canadiens began envisioning a greener future for its team, facilities and communities. That’s when it launched The Goal is Green – with a very ambitious objective to be a leader among all professional sports franchises in environmental management and sustainable development.
To compensate for the number of broken sticks its players generates in games over a season, the Habs have been working with Tree Canada, a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for individuals and groups interested in planting trees for non-commercial uses. Over the past two seasons, the Habs have been responsible for planting 543 trees with Tree Canada’s help through its “Plantons un Baton” (Plant a Stick) initiative. The trees have been planted throughout the Province of Quebec in areas with real needs, such as abandoned agricultural areas near lakes hit hit by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).
Recyc-Hockey: Refurbishing Sticks
Several business have sprung up in an attempt to reuse sticks – keeping them out of the landfills they eventually end up in. Recyc-Hockey is a company in Quebec, Canada that repairs high-end carbon fibre sticks and resells them and is building a network of resellers. Their reconditioned sticks sell for a top-end price of $100 – quite the bargain when you consider they originally retailed at $300 or more when they were purchased new.
Maxime Talbot of Recyc-Hockey tells me the reconditioned sticks come with a warranty too.
“I guarantee the part of the stick that’s been repaired for 30 days. And I guarantee the entire stick for 7 days,” Maxime tells me by telephone.
The sticks are sourced from mostly junior hockey clubs, mostly in the province of Quebec.
“A junior hockey team can go through 2,500 sticks per year easily,” he tells me. “That’s a lot of sticks going into a landfill.”
Maxime says one of his friends, a fellow hockey player, taught him how to repair sticks and he found he was good at it and decided to make a business out of it. Since he started four years ago, he’s made improvements to the repair process and expanded his distribution network in several places around the province, including Sports MT in Quebec City. You can find other outlets — even ask about the availability of particular sticks — through the Recyc-Hockey Facebook page.
There are several other examples of innovative businesses that are repurposing broken hockey sticks and I will highlight some of these in an upcoming post. These innovators include barbeque utensil specialist Hat Trick BBQ, mobile phone case maker Original Stix – and then there’s a wide variety of people using broken sticks to make furniture and home accessories.
Stay tuned – and let me know of any great landfill-saving alternatives to broken sticks you know about!