The majority of people see a hockey stick and they see exactly that - a hockey stick, a piece of wood, with a weird curve on the end, inexplicably wrapped in tape and seemingly more of a blunt striking object than anything else.
To the average hockey player, though, a stick - or a twig - is more than just a piece crafted from wood or composite; it is the bow to the violin, the pick to the guitar string. It's the wand used by magicians to weave magic all over the ice. Without the right length, the right curve, and the right the perfect tape-job, it is nothing more than an irregularly shaped branch off a tree.
Like anything is else in sport, the hockey stick has evolved from nothing more than the aforementioned "piece of wood" to a highly-specialized scoring weapon, modified down to the last detail to give National Hockey League snipers optimal power, quickness and accuracy with each shot they take. It's gotten to the point where the stick almost does the work for you - just lean on the kick-zone and watch the puck fly off the blade, almost effortlessly.
Granted, it's not that simple, but the improvements made to sticks (combined with the shift to composite and carbon shafts) have certainly made hockey sticks much more sophisticated and effective. Over the years, players of all levels have had a multitude of choices when it comes to what brand of stick they want to use, but only a select few will go down in hockey lore as the greatest twigs of all-time.
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15 The Two-Piecer
The "two-piece" stick was kind of the like the puberty stage in the history of hockey sticks. After all those years of all-wood sticks, suddenly things began to change - a mix of old standards and new technologies. It took us all a while to get the hang of it; there were awkward, uncomfortable moments - the strange feel of an aluminum shaft, the weight difference, and the out-of-place looking blade that stuck out like a sore thumb.
Once we got the hang of it, though...watch out, 'tendies!
14 Warrior Covert
The Warrior brand is a strange one - either you love it, or you absolutely hate it. The Warrior brand of sticks is the "hipster" hockey brand; the sticks are stylish and look good, cost as much as all the other sticks (if not more), but when push comes to shove you're only using it to be "different."
For some (like Alex Kovalev, one of the first big Warrior names), it works like a charm - with a focus on the quick release, the Covert (and most Warrior sticks) are great if you're a winger who likes to snap off quick shots while streaking down your off-wing.
13 Reebok SicKick
The SicKick has a couple of things going for it - notably, it has a "sick" name, looks "sick," and has had Sidney Crosby associated with it for years.
The "kick" concept isn't necessarily new - all hockey sticks "kick" out when you lean on them - but Reebok has taken it to a whole new level. Pretty much all their sticks have their hyper release technology, but the SicKick line is specifically engineered to give your release a "slingshot" effect, which means shots are coming off the blade harder and a whole lot faster.
12 Koho Fiberglass
If the two-piece sticks were the "puberty" stage of the hockey sticks development, fiberglass is the age where boys spend half of their time running away from girls with "cooties" while secretly in love with the girl of their dreams.
The fiberglass sticks - specifically the Koho's - had a much smoother feel to them. They weren't necessarily lighter, but it's almost as if the feel made the stick seem less heavy in your hands. They were quite fragile for something made out of wood, and were generally shied away from - but if you were brave enough to use one, you sure did reap the benefits (if only for a little while).
11 Bauer Supreme Total One
If you ever wondered how Steven Stamkos manages to get so much force behind his wicked slapper from a standing still position, you can give part of the credit to his Bauer sticks. Bauer has become a force in the hockey stick landscape over the past decade, and have produced some of the most popular sticks in the world - many used religiously by some of the NHL's best players.
The latest Supreme Total One's a subtle, but they get the job done - built for max power, they're a great stick for someone who needs a little help putting some juice on their clap bomb. If you don't believe me, watch the video above of Stamkos ripping pucks on a driving range with the stick - he launched one 121 yards standing still.
10 Bauer Nexus
As mentioned, Bauer sticks are wildly popular - there's a good chunk of the hockey world that is faithful to Bauer only. The Nexus stakes its claim on it's durability, light weight and it's "broader" profile - great for NHLers, but equally as great for the average Joe who plays once a week. The Nexus sticks are some of the lightest out there, and while you might not get the kind of power behind a shot like you would with a Supreme, you'll still be able to do your fair share of scoring with this stick (assuming you're not a complete duster, of course).
9 CCM RBZ
CCM, like Bauer, has become one of the leading forces in the "stick race." From the Vector (we'll get to that shortly) to its latest gadgets, CCM offers anything a player could want or need. The CCM RBZ line had already rolled out multiple models based on their implementation of the "coefficient of restitution" (C.O.R.) - CCM partnered with TaylorMade golf and applied the concepts used in a golf driver to the blade of a hockey stick. Without getting into the specifics, you can imagine how brilliant that is - and it's showing on the ice, as plenty of NHLers have hopped on the RBZ wagon, including superstars like John Tavares and Marian Hossa.
8 CCM Tacks
A blast from the past - sort of. "Tacks" is a brand synonymous with hockey, so CCM decided to bring back an old school look to a new school product. The CCM Tacks sticks have been on the shelf for less than a year but are already all the rage - in the NHL and elsewhere. The Tacks sticks main selling points are its grip and its ability to help shooters pick the corners - with "some pop" on your shots.
It's also worth mentioning that they look damn good, too.
7 Bauer Vapor XXX
A lot of what goes into choosing a stick is the feel and the benefits of any particular stick, but you also want it to look good. The Bauer Vapor XXX did both - and had the Nike logo attached to it to boot. It's an all-around scoring weapon that was light, durable, well-rounded and flashy, and it made players look flashy all over the ice, too.
The big "X's" that lined the bottom of the shaft just added to the mystique of the stick, and helped it become one of the most used twigs of the 2000's.
6 TPS Response
The TPS Response probably wouldn't have caught anyone's attention had it not been for mammoth defensemen like Sheldon Souray leaning into 105 MPH slapshots - without the stick snapping clean in two each and every time. The bright yellow stick will definitely catch your eye, but it was the technology found in the blade (supposedly one of the strongest and lightest at the time) that really propelled it over the top.
5 Koho Revolution
Like the TPS Response, the Koho Revolution is better remembered for it's funky bright yellow hue than it is for anything else - you can find a Revo on the clearance rack for 40$ these days - but during it's glory days this was Koho's claim to fame. The name Revolution was a propos, it's a composite stick with a fiberglass shell with reinforced fibers in the blade. So several of the materials duking it out for "stick supremacy" were found inside the same twig, battling it out...over the top, yes, but the stick did catch on for awhile.
4 The Wooden Twig
There's nothing like a classic.
Whether you used a Sher-Wood or a Titan, there's not discounting the legacy of the wooden hockey stick. Players like Ryan Smyth (who played during the rise of composite sticks) refused to let go of the wooden twig - granted, hockey players are creatures of habit, but if it was good enough for Gretzky, Lemieux and Lafleur, it should be good enough for the rest of us. It's hard to pin down one wood stick that was king above the rest, so we've lumped them all in together - while keeping in mind that the two aforementioned brands were kings of the industry at the time.
3 CCM Vector
While he's since moved on from them, sniper extraordinaire was once a devoted Vector user. The CCM brand was one of the most popular of the mid-2000's among amateurs and pros - Ovechkin himself had some of his best years using Vector-brand twigs. The classic metallic blue Vector brings up feelings of nostalgia, but CCM evolved it over the years to include lighter, stronger versions before moving on a few years ago.
2 Easton Synergy
The Easton Synergy might deserve the first spot on this list, but it'll make sense once you scroll down. The Synergy is still one of the most popular stick brands across the hockey world, despite all the modifications made since it's "humble" beginnings around 2000. Big names like Joe Sakic and Paul Kariya were some of the first to pick up the one piece composite twig, to the ire of goalies everywhere.
The Synergy is the forefather of the type of sticks that have become commonplace in hockey, and will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who made the rest of us jealous by showing up to a PeeWee hockey game with a $200+ dollar hockey stick.
1 Easton HXP (Aluminum)
So, why isn't the Synergy at the top of this list?
Because The Great One said so.
Granted, Gretzky retired just before the advent of the composite stick, but he was right in the middle (and directly responsible) for the rise of the aluminum shaft. If the greatest scorer in the history of the sport says that the Easton HXP was the greatest stick he'd ever used, who are we to argue with him (or the 80 or so NHLers who picked one up the second the words came out of The Great One's mouth)?
Here's exactly what Gretzky said about the HXP back then, according to The Toronto Star: "After using it, I'm convinced that it’s the best stick made,” Gretzky says at a news conference. “It is absolutely perfect for my needs — stiff shaft and yet extremely light."
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