Almost forever — OK, since the early 1900s — hockey players
have been applying tape to their sticks.
While the blade gets most of the attention, for reasons of
both protection and performance, the butt end of the stick requires equally
careful taping to enhance a player’s ability to hold onto the most important
piece of hockey gear north of his skates.
Or does it?
Since 2013, former minor league hockey player Rob LaLonde
and childhood friend Kevin Lonergan have been selling rubber hockey grips under
the Buttendz name. Tacki-mac has been in the market longer with a composite
grip, and lately others (Sniper Skin, etc.) have entered the fray.
They’re all making the argument that a hockey stick grip is
a better way to go than tape.
Hockey Grip It or
Taping a stick is one of the game’s rituals. A tape job is
as individual as a player, from the size of the knob at the end of the stick to
the amount of shaft covered by the courses of tape, to the tightness of the
overlap of the courses themselves.
But here are a few arguments against tape:
It’s kind of a pain. Tape jobs need to be redone at least every couple of games. It takes time to apply and remove. It’s hard to duplicate the exact feel from tape job to tape job, and always having tape on hand is a near-constant cost and planning consideration.
It might not work all that well. Sure, a fresh tape job helps the stick feel secure in your hands. But how long does that fresh feeling last? A couple of shifts?
It adds to the smell.Hockey gear in general gets funky. Cloth tape soaks in the water and sweat, not to mention the grime from every off-ice area with which it comes into contact.
It damages your gloves. Many players believe moving away from tape has extended the life of their gloves. Tape adhesive speeds the wear on the palms of your gloves and leads them to get grimy faster.
Hockey Grip Pluses
Hockey grips take away many downsides of tape:
Most are quickly installed, sliding over or rolling onto the end of the stick. Others are “shrink wrapped” by dousing with hot water.
They last longer than tape.
Grips are more consistent than tape jobs, and better “shock” absorbers. Passes are more comfortably received and transitioning to a shot more controlled.
The grips stay “grippy” when wet. They’re super tacky to begin with, but as opposed to tape, that tackiness doesn’t transfer to your gloves — so there’s no chance of adhesive residue “catching” as your lower hand adjusts up and down the length of the shaft.
They look great. Not only do they never get gross, the way tape can, they’re available in a variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes. And, many models are customizable with names or numbers.
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