Blade patterns play a central role in modern hockey. They are one of the few pieces of equipment that can be fully customized around an athlete’s unique skill set. Traditionally named after sponsored athletes, common patterns have as many aliases as a super spy and pop up in every level of competition.
With the growing popularity of carbon fiber sticks, custom blade patterns have been relegated to the few, old school wood players. Nowadays, hockey sticks come in a handful of industry standard patterns, such as the Sakic or Modano. While these general blade variations get the job done, athletes are less likely to reap the full suite of benefits a custom blade offers.
Anyone familiar with Eleven knows how passionate we are about our custom blade options. We believe you deserve a blade specially designed to keep up with your specific style of play. But regardless of whether you are creating a custom blade pattern or choosing one from the shelf, the all-important question is how do you figure out which set of features are best suited for you? In short, it comes down to understanding the benefits of each custom option and constructing a pattern tailor made for your specific needs.
The style of your curve plays a big role in determining how well you perform certain skills, like your puck handling, backhands, or slap shots. It is responsible for forming the pocket you use to hold onto the puck during evasive maneuvers, or forming the broad slap you use to launch pucks from the blue line. Some curves are specialized and perform extremely well in some situations, at the cost of being less useful in others, while other curves are pretty good at just about everything.
According to the NHL, the depth of a curve at it’s greatest point should not exceed ¾-inches in height when placed flat. A good way to eyeball this is by sliding an upright dime between your stick and a flat surface. While not an exact measurement by any means, as long as the dime fits through the gap your curve is perfectly legal.
Now that we’ve covered the basic parameters, it’s time to figure out just what style of curve is best suited for your needs. Let’s take a closer look.
This versatile curve is the most widely used in hockey and a one-stop solution for all your needs.
You can envision a mid curve by rounding your hand as if to scoop up some water. The pocket is in the center of the blade, which produces better puck control and allows you to snap off wrist shots and backhands.
You should get a mid curve if you are still learning the game, or if you want the best all-around performance in terms of stickhandling and shooting.
Toe curves are for the danglers, the magicians and wizards of puck control and stick handling.
Picture this curve by laying your hand out perfectly straight, then curl your fingers at the end. Notice how this is different from the mid curve and helps prevent the puck from sliding out of the pocket during quick direction changes.
This curve is better suited for experienced players who want to maximize their ability to zig and zag through the crowd and snap a quick wrist shot.
The heel curve is tailor made for snipers and power shooters.
Bend your wrist while keeping your hand perfectly rigid so that your fingers tilt forward. Notice how the large, flat surface area offers a larger sweet spot, enabling players to rifle off shots with confidence and gusto.
Heel curves are used by those more interested in quick one-timers than fancy stick handling.
This aspect provides a great way to increase the specialization of your blade. It refers to the angle between to front surface of your blade and the top of the ice. The closer the blade leans over onto the ice, the more closed the angle, and vise versa.
While there are near infinite variations in face angle, you will tend to see them grouped into three general categories.
These angles represent blades with the greatest amount of distance between the face of the blade and the ice. Notice how the blade looks almost completely upright in the pictures.
This angle offers the greatest level of accuracy and helps keep the puck low. It’s best suited for long-range snipers and mixes well with the heel curve.
We included this angle simply because it’s the most popular of all variations. You can see the blade starting to curve down toward the ice and form a pocket to help provide a little extra puck protection.
Like the mid curve, this variation offers a nice blend of everything and can be used by players of all skill levels and positions. The slight angle solid for backhands and saucer passes, but still offers decent slapshot potential and puck control.
The more open the angle becomes, the closer the face of the blade comes to the surface of the ice. Just look at how far these blades stretch out compared to the other pictures.
Open angles are designed for offensive-minded players who need to hang onto the puck during fancy jukes and require the ability to raise the puck at will for greater scoring potential.
The toe, or tip, of the blade can come in a couple different shapes, each with their own pros and cons. While this is probably the least important factor when choosing a blade pattern, it still provides a couple benefits.
Most of the advantage comes from being able to contact the ice with a greater portion of your blade than would otherwise be possible. Of course, this comes down to understanding your specific role requirements so you can choose the shape that benefits your play style the most.
Sawing off the edges of your blade isn’t just for looks. A rounded toe makes it easier to keep contact with the ice, no matter what angle your stick is at. At you might imagine, this unique feature is designed with puck handling in mind, enabling athletes to perform complex moves without letting the puck slip away.
Choosing to keep your squared-off edges doesn’t make you a bad player. In fact, a more rectangular blade means more of the blade will be grounded on the ice as long as the stick is in a natural position. This larger surface area is ideal for receiving passes, snagging rebounds, and launching one-timers from deep.
This term refers to the angle between the stick shaft and blade. Lie options are available in ranges between 4 and 8, with the vast majority of patterns falling between the 4 to 6 range.
Having the correct lie will enable you to keep your blade flat on the surface of the ice. When the lie is off, the blade tends to either ride on the heel or tip, which slowly wears down the stick’s overall integrity and can also make it harder to collect passes or handle the puck.
Higher lies are better for players who want to keep the puck in tight and close to their body. It’s ideal for the offensive and can help you navigate through the crowd for a quick shot. Lower lies allow the athlete to play with the puck out in front. They open up the passing lane and provide the perfect angle for slap shots.
Pro Tip: How to Check Your Lie
To determine whether your current lie meets your play style needs, simply check the wear on your tape. If the heel wears down faster than the rest, it means you prefer to play with your stick further in front of you and need a lower lie. If the wear is closer to the toe, it means you want to play tighter to your body and should choose a higher lie. When the blade wears evenly, it means you’ve found the perfect lie. Congratulations!
Rules and Regulations
Sadly, when it comes to custom blade design, the sky is not the limit. Here are a couple restrictions designed to regulate your options.
Curve: No more than ¾”. The rule of thumb is to try to slide a dime between your stick and a flat surface (either the floor or wall). While a dime is not the exact dimension, it can be a good indication that your stick is on the illegal side.
Length: The length from the heel of the stick, to the tip of the blade cannot be any longer than 12 ½ “.
Height: A stick can be no longer than 65”.
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