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Equipment Chronicles - Part I: Sticks and Tape

Supply, strength, and style; sticks and tape in the Coyotes dressing room

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

For Stan Wilson, it's a big numbers game for his Coyotes, who use thousands of rolls of tape and sticks per season, not to mention players using up to three sets of gloves a period and even a few different skate blades.

Head equipment manager Wilson has been with the franchise since 1990, six years before the team relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix. He has prepared franchise teams for more than 2,000 NHL games. Come along for a three-part series chronicling the fundamental workings of the Coyotes' equipment operations:

Part I: Sticks and tape

Part II: Skates and gloves

Part III: Training camp and acquired players

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Coyotes players go through a lot of sticks each season.

Approximately: 2,000.

That was one of many housekeeping numbers revealed by Wilson last week.

"We pretty much plan for one new stick each game [for each player]," Wilson said. "That would be the average. They use one new one per game on average -- not every game they get a new one, but they may break a couple in one game, so it averages about 80 or so per year. There are players in the league that'll use three new sticks in a [single] game, but in general, it's about one."

Of course, without sticks, there wouldn't be hockey, so Wilson keeps lots on hand.

"We usually [keep] around a dozen on the rack per player," he said, "We try to keep a 12-pack around all the time, because there's the odd time where you may get a bad batch and they break [and] two or three go right away.

"You have to be somewhat prepared ahead of time. And if a guy's going through a bad streak, maybe he's going to use a few more sticks, or try a new kind. So, you have to have a few out and ready to go."

Players are particular, of course. And their sticks are manufactured to fit their specifications. The old days of players using blowtorches to adjust the curve or saw down the length are pretty much gone.

"The sticks actually come in pretty exact," he said. "Some sticks you'll have to cut to adjust the length. But even the length - you can get them ordered exactly to your length. They'll just pull them off the shelf and tape 'em up, that's it. There's really no … it's not like the old days where [the players] were curving the blade and going through them because 'this one was stiffer than the other one.' The consistency now is … pretty consistent."

It has become the proverbial science.

"Now, when you get a dozen sticks in, they use a dozen sticks," he said. "When they were wooden, it was so inconsistent. You would get a dozen sticks and a picky guy might only use four of them because the flex was different, the blades were off, whatever. The composite sticks - they make a mold, it's done, it's exact, and every single stick is very close to exactly what the player wants."

Including the strength of the stick.

"With the flex of a composite stick, guys are shooting way harder than they used to with these new sticks," Wilson said. "When those first came out, guys were using very stiff shafts, like 100 or 95 flex was the lowest flex used."

Technically, stick flex rating is the number of pounds of force required to bend the shaft one inch.

"But now some guys are using 70 [flex]," Wilson said. "... with a lot more flex, they're getting a harder shot, or a harder wrist shot."

As every hockey player knows -- from the mini-mite to the Hall of Famer -- with the stick comes hockey tape. It's like white on rice.

Wilson estimated that the team uses roughly 1,000 rolls of each kind of cloth tape each season. It uses four types -- white, black, thick, and thin -- totaling about 4,000 rolls of stick tape.

"Guys all have their theories on why they use certain tape," Wilson said. "Some of it's the way it spins the puck. Some of it's the way it hides the puck. Some of it's thicker and thinner -- the feel. They all have their own theory on what the tape is all about. They know what feels right to them; they don't even have to look."

Certain players, such as Phil Kessel, for example, tape the shaft of the stick, an art that has slowly disappeared with the transition to composite sticks. The "candy cane," as it has often been described, is a twirl of tape the length of the stick to aid grip.

"I think the companies have kind of nailed it now," Wilson said. "They know mild grip, medium grip, heavy grip. They know how to make it work, so that's where the 'candy cane' has gone away. And I'm not sure with Phil, whether it's just a feel thing or he wants to stay consistent."

Plastic tape, a "clear" tape, gets the most use. Clear tape mostly is used to tighten and fasten the shin pads and socks.

Roughly 60 cases of plastic tape are used each season. With 36 rolls to a case, more than 2,000 rolls are used.

All told, Coyotes players use more than 6,000 rolls of tape each season.

Next: Part II - Skates and Gloves

Lead Photo Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Second Photo Credit [Hjalmarsson Broken Stick]: Adam Lacy - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images // Third Photo Credit [Sticks On Bench]: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes // Fourth Photo Credit [Richardson Stick Flex]: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Fifth Photo Credit [Hjalmarsson Tape]: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Sixth Photo Credit [Kessel Sticks]: Alex Kinkopf - Arizona Coyotes // Footer Photo Credit: Norm Hall - Arizona Coyotes

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