Phil Kessel’s New Stick

I think hockey equipment is pretty interesting, especially sticks. The hockey stick seems simple enough but really there’s an endless amount of variation in how players prepare their gear. Some players like big curves, some small. Some players like big toe curves as opposed to mid curves. Some players tape huge knobs to the top of their shafts (if you’re waiting for a dick joke it’s not coming) and then there’s Phil Kessel who does the "Candy Cane":

Kessel’s been doing the candy cane to the shaft of his stick for a while and I always kind of wondered: he’s sponsored by Bauer and Bauer has to pay the NHL to have their logo be visible on players’ sticks. It kind of stands to reason that Bauer would want kids to see that Phil Kessel uses a Bauer stick especially given that he plays for the Leafs and is thus a pretty popular player in the lucrative Golden Horseshoe.

This year started, along with Bauer’s push in marketing their Supreme TotalONE stick, and I noticed something:

No candy cane. Where’d the candy cane go? Surely Phil Kessel didn’t give up on something he’s been doing his whole life when it comes to sticks. I filed this away as a curiousity and then last Saturday night at Real Sports I saw a rack of game used Toronto Maple Leafs’ sticks. One of them was Phil Kessel’s:

Notice the thin lines? The stick was prepared with Bauer’s GripTac material, a thin clear grippy rubber coating, in the exact same candy cane swirl as Kessel’s usual tape job. It wasn’t a case of him removing the tape from a shaft and having the grip material come off, it was clearly made that way.

This isn’t something available to consumers from Bauer, even through their iD system which lets you customize pretty much anything you want on their one piece composite sticks.

While searching for images it seems that Kessel has a few TotalONEs that are taped up so I’m guessing Bauer is still working on this spiral grip pattern and Kessel sometimes goes back to a "traditional" stick. The picture above is from the Carolina game on Monday and this is from the Tampa game on Tuesday:

Just something I thought was interesting.