Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Stick Work

When it comes to their sticks most NHL players have their own personal voodoo they apply in hopes of working some puck magic.
The first thing Detroit's Brett Lebda does when he gets a new shipment of hockey sticks is grab a marker and write an inscription on the back.

''I have a little superstition,'' says Lebda, who has religiously adhered to the practice since he was kid playing on the frozen ponds of Illinois. ``Just something that means something to me.''

Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, makes sure he takes his three kids with him every time he steps on the ice, writing their names -- Matthew, Braeden and Taryn -- in neat script on the nob of his stick.

And on the Florida Panthers' bench, there are players who won't touch a stick if there's anything written on it.

''We have some guys who won't [even] let me put a number on their stick,'' equipment manager Rob McLean says. ``Whether it's bad luck or what, I don't know.''

Welcome to the modern NHL, where players will call on everything from old myths to new mechanics if they think it will give them an edge.
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