Beer League Chronicles: How one Broken Stick changed my Outlook on the New faces of the NHL
My summer men’s league team is currently in the playoffs. And we have found our way into the semi-finals. Thank you, thank you, I know it’s exciting, but hold the applause please. We are currently tied 1-1 in a best of three series, and are going to play the crucial game three this week. But during game 2, disaster struck! My stick, who has lead me into battle for the past two seasons, who has buried more garbage then the city of Toronto, was finally laid to rest after a vicious slash by an opposing defenseman.
The thought of replacing such a crucial member of our team, at such a crucial point in the season was appalling. But as I walked into Sport Chek, and saw the rows and rows of sticks, with little yellow sale tags on them, excitement took me. I was a 12 year old boy again.
After brushing away the first three teenage salesclerks, I arrived in composite heaven. Knowing what I wanted, I went straight for the Easton’s with 100 flex, and a Sakic curve. The same make of stick I have been using for almost the last decade. Then I started sifting through the different models, which vary by weight, feel, and price. While I was narrowing down my selection, I noticed a fourth salesman lurking over my shoulder.
So beating him to the punch, I asked him,
“Can I help you?”
Taken aback he stammered,
“I-I noticed you were looking at Easton sticks, and that that you might be interested in their new EQ line that’s on the display over there”
It was my turn to be a little surprised,
“Oh, new line, yes I would be interested…”
So I walked over to the display and started checking out the new EQ 30, 40 and 50. I grabbed a random lefty off of the rack, and right away noticed the same great feel I’ve come to love from the Easton line. Then, Nick (I decided he was worthy of having a name after showing me the new sticks), explained that they had a new visible weighted blade, which gave you more control and made it easier to take hard passes. And that it also had an adjustable weighted end cap that allowed you to change the weight distribution through the shaft. Perfect, I was sold. They looked great, felt great, had some new added features, and were on sale. I just needed to choose a price point, find my buddy Joe, and I was ready for game 3!
I chose the EQ40, but there were no Sakic’s to be found? Come to think of it, none of the EQ’s had a Sakic left on the rack…
I turned to Nick,
“Hey buddy, I noticed that your all out of Sakics’, do you think you might have some more in the back?”
And he responded (you might want to sit down for this one),
“There is no more Sakic. Sakic has been replaced by Taylor Hall.”
“Taylor Hall! Taylor Hall…..What the Hell!”
“Ya man, it’s the same everything, a P3 blade, with a mid-curve”
“Dude? Are you okay?”
I was obviously not okay! The store started spinning. Up was left, down was right. How could I replace Joe Clutch with Taylor Hall? Especially in the playoffs! Joe Sakic, nicknamed Joe Clutch for scoring the most playoff overtime goals ever! How could you want anybody else but him on the ice with you in the playoffs? Do the kids today not know who Joe Sakic is? The 9th leading scorer in NHL history?
As I drove home with my new, older model Joe Sakic stick in the truck. I couldn’t help but think what a huge slap in the face this was to Joe. Being replaced by a 20 year old kid! An un-proven kid at that! Theres no doubt in my mind that he won’t be a good player, maybe even a star. But there is no way he will ever be as good as Sakic was, and I would be willing to bet just about anything on that! Easton really dropped the ball on this one!
I thought about it all afternoon, and late into the evening. And when I finally calmed down, and sat down to tape up my new stick, I realized I was wrong…
These kids today don’t want a Joe Sakic stick. Or an Yzerman, or a Hull for that matter. They want an Ovechkin, or a Crosby, or a Hall. I’m holding on to a generation passed. A golden era of hockey, from my childhood, not theirs. An era I cherished growing up, and will always remember. But an era I also have to let go of. Would I have wanted a Gordie Howe stick growing up? No, I wanted a Gretzky or a Lemieux! So bring on Taylor Hall! And out with the old, and in with the new!
…. and thats the Last Word.