You don’t normally have a “eureka” moment while frying bacon, but I did, and it had to do with the broken hockey stick epidemic that Don Cherry talked about in his recent Coach’s Corner (at the 5:00 mark in the video clip). As I fried up the bacon – bacon I’d paid good money for – it shrivelled up into pieces half as big as what they should have been. I felt I’d been ripped off. And, as I went online to tell others about my bad purchase, it made me wonder: are we, as hockey parents and players, complaining loudly enough when our high-performance hockey sticks snap in two? Are we saying “Listen Up: We’re sick of broken sticks?”

I’ve made a tour and think we can be doing more.

In the world of especially high-end hockey sticks, it seems we’ve been slapping down money for the stick we think we’re getting – with the curve, length and flex that we want, but we’re getting something we don’t expect: a tool that is breaking too easily.

“Don’t tell me they can’t be doing something about that,” Cherry exclaims, referring to the plethora of sticks being broken. With video clips of sticks breaking from a variety of NHL teams being shown as he talks in the background, the hockey commentator and former NHL coach and player goes on to recount a story about how one dad told him his kid had broken 5 sticks already this season.

That’s $560 he had to pay,” Cherry says, “and if he was paying the regular price, it would have been FIFTEEN HUNDRED BUCKS!” Cherry calls this “a joke” and “criminal”.

Indeed. Each of the big hockey brands have high-end sticks that come with a high-end price point – around or above $300CAN or $269US. They are light. They come with a variety of flexes, grips and patterns. And they are so disappointing when they break.

Are They Sticking It To Us?

We can see that sticks are breaking: it’s nearly impossible to watch an NHL game to not see at least one stick broken throughout a game. The NHL players aren’t going to complain publicly – they’ve got their brand reps to complain to.

Us consumers, on the other hand, can.

I’ve made a tour of several online sites that sell high-end hockey sticks. Most of them have a comments section — and most of those are underused, with few if any rankings at all. Some sites, though, like HockeySupremacy.com and TotalHockey.com have comments on many of the sticks they sell. Most of the comments are from players beaming with pride about how they love their new stick, how quick they can make the puck explode from the blade,– but not all of the comments are pretty. 

Here are some I’ve found.

stick-breaks-easily

…breaks pretty easily

Now I know that most stick purchase are probably made in store and not online, which means that the complaints about broken sticks are made in person at a retailers.

Too weak

Too weak

broke-quickly

…but I broke it quickly.

But commenting about the frailty of your stick on-line will do two things: it can act as a warning to other buyers, and it will get the manufacturers to sit up and take note. No manufacturer wants to see comments knocking their products, and if enough disgruntled parents and players begin to complain, something will be done and the manufacturers will (go back to) making quality products like they used to.

If you’re a victim of broken sticks, find a place to comment and tell the world about it.