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Blue Jackets' broken sticks given new life

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

It’s not uncommon for an NHL player to break his stick during practice or game. In fact, it’s written into the NHL rule book as to what a player can and cannot do after breaking a stick on the ice during the course of play.

More often than not, the player with the broken stick will drop the remains and seek out a replacement stick from a teammate on the ice or, more commonly, from a trainer or teammate on the bench.

But what happens to those broken sticks?

In the case of the Blue Jackets, the broken sticks don’t simply get tossed into the trash.

A few will be handed to fans. Some will go to the FOX Sports Ohio Blue Line Store to be sold.

Others are given to the Blue Jackets Foundation to be recycled into furniture and other items, which will be auctioned off to charity.

And some are distributed to local sled hockey teams who repurpose the shafts to create specialty sticks.

The Blue Jackets Foundation works closely with the Blue Jackets equipment staff to evenly distribute the sticks throughout the season.

One of the local sled hockey teams to receive sticks from the Blue Jackets is the Ohio Warriors, a sled hockey team for disabled veterans.

Brian Rosen, founder of the team, said Warrior Hockey had donated a bunch of blades, but the team didn’t have many shafts and, as a charitable organization, didn’t have the funding to buy them.

A longtime hockey fan and player himself, Rosen knew how often hockey players break their sticks and reached out to the Blue Jackets to see what the NHL team did with their broken sticks.

“If we could get their broken sticks, we could probably get two shafts for every one full-sized stick, which would be a big help in our costs and every dime really counts for us,” Rosen said.

Rosen was able to get in contact with the equipment managers and, on Military Appreciation Night, after the Ohio Warriors scrimmaged between periods, the players went into the locker room and picked up a bundle of sticks.

“It made perfect sense to them - why toss them if we could use them?” Rosen said. “It was helpful. It saved us some money and when you’re fundraising for every dime to cover your ice time and all of the other expenses, everywhere you can save is really helpful.”

The Blue Jackets staff had cut down several shafts for the Ohio Warriors, and Rosen said they were able to make about eight or 10 pairs of sticks.

“I think almost all of (the sticks) we were able to put to use,” Rosen added. “Of course, everybody was really appreciative of having those and they thought it was cool playing with some of the NHL players sticks.”

Another organization to benefit from broken Blue Jackets sticks is the Ohio Sled Hockey Club. Kelly Fenster, the team’s general manager, oversees operations for the club and said that receiving donations of broken sticks helps the non-profit save money.

“It benefits us to have the broken sticks because we don’t have to buy the shaft, we can just buy the blade and the picks to put them on,” Kelly said. “It actually cuts your cost down immensely. Depending on when you purchase certain things, it
will save you about $100
per set of sticks, which is great.”

In addition to cutting costs, Kelly said reusing the Blue Jackets’ old sticks has another benefit — it makes for a unique experience for the players.

“It’s cool for our players to say, ‘Hey, I have Nick Foligno’s sticks.’ That was my son’s thing. He couldn’t wait to get a pair. He went down with me to pick up the broken sticks,” Fenster said.

Kelly’s son, Michael, spent time Googling the players and their sticks to figure out the previous owners of the donated sticks. All of the players have their names, nicknames or numbers on their sticks but, depending on the break, some of the sticks weren’t marked with player information.

“He was researching each and every stick to find out whose they were,” Kelly said.

Another player on the team has a pair
of Jared Boll’s sticks. Kelly is
currently getting a few more
pairs made for some of the other
players on the team.

“She’s played with (the Boll sticks) for a long time and I think it’s just a cool thing for them to say that they have a pair of a NHL players sticks. That’s a huge thing for a lot of them," Fenster said.

Michael was appreciative of the stick donation and the strong relationship between the Blue Jackets and their commitment to hockey in Ohio.

“It’s definitely really cool,” Michael said. “It shows that people know who we are and it really shows the connection between Ohio Sled Hockey and the Blue Jackets in that they’re helping us out and trying to promote hockey of all kinds across the state is really cool.”

*If you’d like to donate sticks or other hockey equipment to Ohio Sled Hockey or the Ohio Warriors, please visit their websites for more information.*

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