Hockey sticks have come a long way over the years. Back in the day, a hockey stick was made out of solid wood, and a good one cost about $20. Today, hockey sticks are made from composite materials and have skyrocketed to $200 each. What happened and how did it get there?

Hockey Sticks of Old: Wood Was Good

Prior to the 1980s, hockey sticks were made from good ‘ole wood. These sticks gave players a good feel on the ice so they could handle the puck the way they needed to. Strong and durable, wooden sticks weren’t as likely to break as today’s sticks are. But they did have their down-sides. Wood can be heavy, and it definitely hurts when they hit!

A Blade with a Twist!

Hockey sticks have always been about the same shape, with a long handle and a curved blade to guide the puck. The length of the shaft has varied, and the curve of the blade was pretty standard-until Stan Mikita came along! One day at practice, Mikita’s stick got stuck in the doorway by the bench. When he pulled it out, it was bent. He played with it anyway with great results. This eventually led the league to define how “curved” a blade could be.

The 1980s: Aluminum Enters the Scene

The world of hockey sticks broke into two pieces in the 1980s-literally. To increase function, manufacturers designed a two-piece stick. The shaft was made from aluminum, and the blade remained wood. Pieces were interchangeable, so if the blade broke, it could be easily replaced. This also gave players the ability to customize their sticks to their play.

The 1990s: Composite Materials Lead to More Flexible Options

The technological coming-of-age in the 90s wasn’t lost on hockey. Composite materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber began to replace the aluminum shafts in hockey sticks. They were thought to offer more durability because they weren’t as susceptible to rotting and splitting from water damage. The KOHO XL1, the first of its kind composite stick, was a good start but didn’t really work as intended.

Turn of the Century: Return of the One-Piece Hockey Stick, But Better!

Not everyone was a fan of the two-piece hockey sticks, but composite materials gave an edge over the weight and lack of flexibility of a wooden stick. Putting a one-piece design together with composite materials was a winning combination. The one-piece composite stick, or OPS, offers players a faster release and more energy transfer over its wooden counterpart with a fraction of the weight.

What do you think? Which kind is your favorite hockey stick? Are they worth the extra money?

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