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burning Question
April 16, 2001
(Q) Why do so many NHL players still play with wooden sticks?
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April 16, 2001

Burning Question

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(Q) Why do so many NHL players still play with wooden sticks?

(A) Though high-tech models in aluminum, titanium and graphite- Kevlar composites are lighter and provide more power, nearly half of all NHL players still play with wooden sticks. One reason is that hockey players are notoriously finicky about their gear, and those accustomed to wooden shafts don't want to mess with the precise puck control they have with a stick they're used to. "I've used wood since I was a kid," says Flyers center Keith Primeau (left). "Switching would be like someone who's used wood bats all his life suddenly using an aluminum bat."

Of course, hockey players are also a superstitious lot. After scoring 33 goals in 1999-2000, winger Teemu Selanne, now with the Sharks, switched from wood to graphite in training camp and went more than three months without a multigoal game. After going back to wood, he scored three goals in two games in early January, the start of a binge that continued through the end of the regular season. "I tried graphite, and it didn't work," says Selanne. "I didn't have a lot of confidence in it, and everything's about confidence."

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