Hockey Analysis: Not Rocket Science

Every weekend during the NHL All-Star weekend, they do a skills competition, which is good fun. One of the competitions is the hardest shot. The reigning champion for all-time hardest shot is Al Iafrate, who in 1993 uncorked a 105.2 mph bomb.

(NHLers don’t need helmets for this part of the competition, so that night Iafrate uncorked another bomb: a combination comb-over and mullet. The flashback video was fairly horrifying.)

In the competition there’s a fair bit of time in between shots, so the hockey analysts were going on about composite sticks, and boy, don’t they help the guys shoot harder.

“Yeah, just look at the flex on that stick,” one analyst said, as they froze the screen to show a stick bowing as it connected with the puck.

Then they interviewed Ron Wilson, the coach of the San Jose Sharks, who says it’s added 10 mph to his slap shot.

“Boy, just think how hard the older guys could shoot now!” one analyst enthused.

At some point I thwacked my forehead in exasperation. According to these same analysts, the “modern” NHL player is allegedly stronger, fitter and more skilled than pucksters of yore (sorry, bad phrases become me tonight), and many of them are certainly taller. Zdeno Chara is 6’9; Iafrate a mere 6’3″.

Boy, I just hate it when hockey analysts are dense. If the composite sticks are so freakin’ good, why hasn’t anyone beaten Iafrate’s record? Why hasn’t Chara, who’s been over 100 mph two years in a row?

Because composite sticks don’t help you shoot harder, that’s why. Duh. Below is Al MacInnis, six-time winner of the hardest shot competition. Note the flex of the wooden stick.