‘Made in Canada’ wooden hockey sticks vanishing

An announcement came across the news service this week that the last wood hockey stick manufacturer in Quebec was ending the production.
Sher-Wood, located in Sherbrooke, will begin outsourcing its wooden hockey sticks in January. After 58 years of making the famous Quebec stick, the factory will manufacture its last one in January.
Wood hockey sticks were the extensions of the legends of my time: “Rocket” Richard, Jean Belliveau, Bobby Orr, Guy LaFleur, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and Gump Worsley.
Improvements were made over time to those wooded sticks. The original sticks were made of one piece of wood. That changed to a stick and blade.
The solid ash handle was replaced with a solid wood laminate that increased its durability. Similar improvements were made to the blades.
Many hockey players would tell you that something is lost in the new composite sticks. The feel of catching a pass or making a pass has changed.
While they have given up on the feel, though, the durability of the new sticks far outweighs the feel of the historic wooden sticks.
The manufacturer of Hespeler sticks estimates it takes almost a week of production to produce a full wooden composite hockey stick. Customizing sticks requires hands-on skills to produce the proper flex and bending.
But the cost of producing those high-quality sticks has forced manufacturers to begin sourcing different types of sticks.
Eventually, hockey players abandoned those wood sticks. Today, only one in 20 NHL players continue to use wooded sticks.
For countless generations, hockey players grew up only playing with wooden sticks. As a youth, I can remember countless debates between my friends about who made the best stick.
It still takes place today—but now today’s hockey players are not talking about wood.
In 2002, the Christian Brothers hockey stick factory closed its production doors in Warroad, Mn. Their innovation was placing a Fiberglas sock on the blade to make it stronger.
Bauer shut its hockey stick factory in Hespeler, Ont. in 2004. Employees there formed a new company named Heritage Wood Specialties, acquired the factory and assets, and today continue to manufacture wood sticks in Hespeler.
Other manufacturers, like Victoriaville, CCM, and Easton, continue to sell wooden hockey sticks but they, too, are made in foreign countries.
Sher-Wood will continue to sell wooden hockey sticks but they will come from such far-off places as China, Russia, and Estonia. They are following the footsteps of other hockey equipment-makers.
And although youngsters will continue to take to the ice with wooden sticks to begin their careers, many of those sticks no longer will have that made-in-Canada stamp.
Paul Bossenberry, president of Heritage Wood Specialties, believes in his sticks and noted, “I believe that being ‘Made in Canada’ will mean something to not only Canadians, but to hockey players throughout the world.
“It is, after all, our game.”

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