Ever see a shell-shocked Dad standing outside a Canadian Tire? Chances are, it’s a Dad who just took his kid for their first full set of hockey equipment. (No offense, Mom… it’s just that typically, in Canada, it’s a Dad thing.)
And it’s little wonder – if your kid is into basketball, soccer, or track and field, you pretty much need to make sure they’ve got the right shoes, a pair of shorts, and you’re good to go. Hockey’s a different story. Even a basic shopping list includes a helmet, face mask, mouth guard, throat protector, shoulder pads, shin pads, elbow pads, pants, skates, socks, tape, the ever-popular athletic supporter, and the bag to tote it all around in. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to not have a goalie in the house.
And of course, you can’t forget the stick. A quick glance at one of the country’s biggest hockey retailers shows sticks priced at $299, with dozens more saying “Available, Call for Pricing”, which I assume doesn’t mean they’re $39.95.
So what do you do if your kid wants a $300 hockey stick? It’s simple – if your kid wants to use the same gear the pros use, use the same rationale the pros use, and maybe get yourself off the hook.
Many professional hockey players get paid to use a certain stick.
You were thinking that players got ‘em for free, right? In the NHL, they usually do. And marquee players, or guys playing in big markets like Toronto and New York, go one better – companies like Easton and Bauer pay players to use their stick – in some cases, hundreds of dollars per game. (We’ve even heard cases where a player who has an endorsement deal with Brand X will actually use a competing brand that’s had the Brand X logo painted on). In other words, even Sidney Crosby doesn’t pay $300 for a hockey stick, and neither should you. Little Billy can have a $300 stick when he reaches a level where someone else will pick up the tab.
If they want pro-level equipment, write a pro-level performance incentive deal.
Maybe you don’t want to be a (pardon the pun) stickler on price, and wind up sending your kid out with bargain-basement gear; after all, there is a certain amount of peer pressure in the locker room. So sign a contract – literally – with an incentive bonus. If Little Billy gets 40 assists this year, he gets a better stick for next year. If he gets his speed drills under “x” seconds, he gets a skate upgrade. Your player gets something to work toward, and you’re a little more comfortable knowing they won’t give up the sport next week because they got bored. One word about incentive deals – make sure your kid’s coach knows about it so you’re working toward the same things, and use criteria that reinforce teamwork – assists, instead of goals.
When my friend Paul was around 35, he decided to take up golf, and asked me to help him pick a set of clubs. My advice? Until you’re really serious about your sport, spend only as much money as it takes to be certain that your gear isn’t holding you back. If the head of your putter is held on with duct tape and your short game is your weak spot, there might be a correlation. It’s the same with your kid’s hockey equipment. While they probably don’t need a $300 hockey stick, is the lumber they’re toting right now like a cross they have to bear? Again – ask the coach. Who knows? Maybe your kid’s team can even make some kind of stick deal, just like the pros.
If your child is being scouted by the OHL, then sure – do whatever you can to help them achieve their goals (and get your other kids into professional chess or something). Outside of that, when you consider the ever-changing whims of kids these days, a $300 stick is just an invitation to be shafted.
Hey, it could be worse. They could be into horses.