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When it comes to wood, Holik sticking with it

Tuesday, 10.07.2008 / 11:11 AM / Features
By Eric Marin
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When it comes to wood, Holik sticking with it

Holik is one of the few remaining NHL players using wood sticks, and has no plans to change.

newjerseydevils.com – Today's NHL players hit the ice holding sticks that are scientifically engineered to maximize stiffness and reduce weight. The sticks are hollow, wrapped in carbon fiber and finished in glossy paint jobs fit for a Formula One race car.

Holik in 1993.  View highlights 
But technology isn't everything to Bobby Holik. The Devils center, who returned to the club as a free agent this past summer, knows what works for him and plans on sticking with it.

Holik's tools of the trade haven't varied much during his 17-year NHL career. The 6-4, 235-lb. native of Jihlava, Czech Rep., has used a wood and fiberglass Sherwood stick as far back as the 1992-93 season, his first in New Jersey.
"I just like the feel of the stick, and the balance – it has better balance," Holik said. "And I like a stick that's a little heavier. I think the composites are too light, but there's really three things: they're too light, the puck doesn't feel the same way, and the balance is completely different than the wood sticks."

Manufacturers of one-piece sticks tout the additional velocity that players' shots can reach using their products. One-piece models often feature tapered shaft walls with an engineered "kickpoint" to determine where the shaft will flex during a shot. The goal is to increase the amount of energy transferred to the puck.

Some players see features such as flex ratings as an advantage, but for Holik less is more. His only specifications include extra length and a large, flat blade to help him control the puck on faceoffs.

"With a big, long stick, it's a little softer so that I can really lean into it," he said. "The kickpoint changes depending on where you put your bottom hand, and that's not necessarily the case with the composite. That's one of the reasons that I just couldn't get used to it."

One thing Holik will have to get used to, however, is a new brand. With demand waning for wood, Sherwood announced plans in 2007 to cease production of wood sticks in its Sherbrooke, Que., factory and outsource to Estonia and China. As a result, Holik has sampled wooden models made by Reebok.

Still, the end of an era at Sherwood wasn't enough to make Holik consider going with a composite.

"I gave it a very quick thought," Holik said of picking up a high-tech one-piece. "But I've played with the same stick for years. I hope Reebok can make a similar stick to what I've been used to with Sherwood."

Composite sticks have come under criticism from time to time by observers who say they break too easily or at inopportune times: in front of the net on scoring chances or during key faceoffs. Others underscore the difference in price. At retail, high-end composite sticks can exceed $200 each, while wood sticks range from $30 to $50.

Holik pointed out that he sometimes goes through as many as two or three sticks in a game. On some nights, that total reaches nine.

"It varies based on how they come," he said. "I had some sticks left over from last season and they sat around all summer, so those won't last as long. The fresh ones, when they come in, last longer. Sometimes I make it through a game with one stick; sometimes I use three. It depends."

The formula has worked for Holik, who enters 2008-09 ranked third in Devils' history for both all-time goals (198) and all-time game-winning goals (42). He estimates, however, that fewer than 10 NHLers currently rely on wood sticks, occasionally making him the target of jokes in and around the locker room.

"I don't get a hard time from some of them, I get a hard time from all of them," Holik said of his teammates' reactions to his stick choice. "It's becoming very unique. I've been using it so long, and I'm not sure how many years I have left. Why change now?"




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51


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