You could’ve wasted your time in a lot of places, but you chose to waste your time with me and I appreciate it!
C League Sites will be my own – sort of – beer league diary. ‘Who am I?’ And ‘Why the hell should I care about your hockey diary?’ are both very valid questions you should be asking. Put simply, I am you. I love the game and have played my whole life. I used to be good (but definitely not as good as I thought I was), and I’m just trying to manage my declining skill set just like the rest of you.
In any case, please enjoy my first Beer League Talk post about going back to wood sticks:
What do Momma’s home cooking, riding a bike, and playing Super Nintendo have in common? They all remind of us growing up. And since you are reading this article on Beer League Talk, then the Sher-Wood 5030 is probably just as – if not more – synonymous with your youth!
Close your eyes and think about it. Think about all of the Sher-Woods you had growing up. I bet you can feel the smooth wood in your hands. You may even be able to smell the saw dust from when you had to cut down your shaft. Now, everyone’s perceptual memory of such things is going to vary in acuity, but one thing is for damn sure, you will remember blasting every single puck and ball over the net because of that damn Coffey curve!
This was the 90’s. There were no hockey stores the size of Wal-Marts, nor was there a magical internet where you could buy discarded pro-stock sticks. For most of us, the Sher-Wood 5030 was one of three options that the department store had. You were lucky if you could get a Bauer Supreme 3030, and there’s no way you were going to be seen using a Franklin anything. Whether you liked it or not, you were stuck with Paul.
Nostalgia is fun and all, but what does that have to do with today’s ultra-competitive, cut throat, jungle-esque C leagues?
I found myself at my local Dick’s (for you Canadians, this is our big sporting goods chain. Don’t laugh at the name, you buy everything from a tire store!), and I was quite surprised that: A) there was any hockey equipment at all in the store; and B) they still made wooden hockey sticks let a lone the iconic Sher-Wood 5030! For shits, I picked one off the rack, dangled some imaginary opponents, and then naturally proceeded to test that beauty for flex.
I was super surprised by its weight! How light was it? Feather-Lite. Says so right on the damn stick! No, but seriously, after 15 years of composites, I thought this thing was going to weigh as much as a redwood branch. To be honest, it was as heavy as a mid-level composite. The only weird thing about the weight is that it’s super unbalanced towards the blade.
I was also surprised by the flex. Again, depending on what stick you use, composites have engineered kick points and I didn’t think about this until I flexed this literal piece of wood. I currently use a CCM Ribcor with a lower kick point (because I need that quick release to snipe 40-50 year goalies), so, the uniformed, bow-like flex of ye olde Sher-Wood 5030 was quite foreign to me. Even after cutting about an inch and half off, it was still super whippy; it felt like a 65 flex to be honest.
Additional surprise, this thing was smoooooooooottttthhhhhhhhhhhh. But it wasn’t too smooth? I’ve had some composites before and after grip options that were so slick that I needed to candy stripe my weapon ala Philip Kessel. This Sher-Wood however, was smooth and soft, but not too smooth and soft; it felt real natural in a borderline sexy kind of way?
The BIGGEST surprise of all was that there was a non-Coffey curve option!!!
Again, recalling the halcyon days of the 90’s, in major retail stores, it was Coffey or bust. In pro-shops and at rinks, you would be lucky to find a LeClair or maybe even a Bourque. Imagine my surprise to find a non-Coffey curve in 2019. The pattern was “88” which was quite similar to the Crosby CCM curve and/or Kane Bauer curve. There is no way I would’ve bought this twig if it was a Coffey. I lack the skill to control my shot with a closed toe. I would have a better shot becoming the Bears field goal kicker using the old number 77 sand wedge.
I was super jazzed about my purchase. I was even showing it off to the guys in the room before the game. Then I skate out for warm-ups and everything feels so… off; I couldn’t feel the puck at all. Now granted, I suck. So my “feel for the puck” is really to say that I had even less feel for the puck. I finish warm-ups and say to myself, ‘How much shittier can this wooden stick make me?’ Let’s give it a go.
The game begins and again, I’m not Paul Coffey out there. No one is going to watch me and wonder where I played junior. However, I am a (semi) reliable passer, and I can definitely progress through all three zones on a (semi) regular basis. But with the old Sher-Wood in hand, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t feel anything except panic from being more incompetent than I typically am. It was bad enough to the point that I gave the old lumber three shifts before I went crawling back to my trusty Ribcor.
Which is ironic because as you’ll recall, the problem that NHLers had when they switched from wood to composite was that they lost feeling for the puck. The whole point of this was nostalgia for nostalgia sake, but the other part of this was practicality. This Sher-Wood only cost $40 (U.S.). Had this experiment worked out, I would’ve been able to kill two birds with one stone in that I could’ve accentuated my hockey hipster-ness by going back to wood, and I could’ve saved a boat load of money in the future. After all, I (and overwhelmingly likely, you too) do not need this year’s $300, brand new composite that is .00007 grams lighter than last year’s $300 stick.
I guess I’ll give the Sher-Wood a couple more tries before it becomes another hockey novelty in my basement. Regardless, it was a fun trip going back down memory lane with an old friend.