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Friday, March 4, 2011

Hockey Shaft & Blade Combos

These days, most hockey players are opting to use OPS sticks rather than two-piece blade and shaft combos. Some say it's because of the weight difference; others say it's because they feel like the low-kick flex point is more consistent. I grew up using wood sticks and eventually made the change to two piece shaft and blade combos. That was back in the days of the original Easton Ultra Lite shaft – a breakthrough in its own right for that time.



For years, I've been using shafts and blades and I've always been pleased. For some reason I decided to switch back to wood sticks for a while, which was fine, but I had trouble finding one that held up as well as the old Bauer Supreme 3030 sticks I used to play with. At that point I decided to try out a few OPS's. I wasn't disappointed with the performance of the sticks, but when I started breaking blades, I thought, "If this was a shaft/blade combo, I wouldn't be out $200 right now."



I don't have anything against one piece sticks, but I'd like to offer a few reasons to consider using a shaft/blade combo instead. Everyone has their own set of preferences when it comes to sticks, so what works for you may not be the best fit for the next guy.


Upsides to Using a Shaft/Blade Combo


  1. The most obvious upside to using a shaft/blade combo is that when you break a blade, that's all you have to replace. It's much cheaper to replace a $30-$40 blade than to replace a $200 stick.

  2. Cross-brand options – When you buy a Bauer OPS, you get Bauer blade patterns. When you buy an Easton OPS, you get Easton blade patterns. When you buy a shaft and blade separately, you have the option of mixing and matching the blade and shaft that work best for you. Maybe you like the TotalOne Shaft from Bauer, but you want to use a Synergy ST Blade from Easton... Not a problem.

  3. Durability – This may have just been my own experience, but I've noticed a serious difference in durability between Shaft/Blade combos and OPS's. Not all OPS sticks, but many of the ones I've used have broken in a relatively short amount of time – much less time than the Shafts and Blades I've used. I don't have any science to back this up, but it might be the difference in torque distribution that causes a one piece stick to snap more easily than a shaft. Perhaps the material overlap of a shaft/blade combo acts as a form of reinforcement?


In any case, shafts and blades may not be the current trend, but there's certainly an argument to be made for them. There are plenty of reasons to give it a shot. Just keep in mind that shafts and blades come in "tapered" (.520") and "non-tapered" (standard .620"). You must only match tapered blades with tapered shafts and non-tapered blades with non-tapered shafts.


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