Top 5 Biggest Gear Surprises Of 2023-2024 — So Far

By Matt Stathopoulos

12/05/2023

Top 5 Biggest Gear Surprises Of 2023-2024 — So Far
The 2023-24 NHL hockey season is only a month old, but we’ve already seen some interesting surprises. Who expected the Red Wings to be scoring at their current pace? Who anticipated the Golden Knights to start the season on such a tear?

On top of these NHL storylines, there are a few hockey stick- and gear-related storylines that have surprised as well. Here are the top 5 NHL gear surprises of 2023-24 — so far (in no particular order).

Ovechkin’s Stick Changes
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Alex Ovechkin started the season 72 goals shy of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record and is legitimately within striking distance after a 42-goal campaign last season. You would forgive him for staying the course and plugging away to chase that record.

Well, Ovechkin is off to a slower start this season, and like many players in a scoring funk, the hockey stick is usually to blame. Ovechkin, an avid CCM user over the past several years, has been seen with Bauer sticks on two separate occasions— once in the preseason with a Nexus Geo graphic stick, and then in a regular-season game against Calgary with the new Bauer Vapor HyperLite 2.

Ovi is searching for answers and Washington Capitals fans are hoping he figures it out soon.

Corey Perry’s Identity Crisis
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Corey Perry always has been an enigma in the NHL — and this season, even his gear choices are strange. For some unknown reason, Perry has Josh Anderson’s name on his personal sticks. This is a real head scratcher.

A few years ago when they were teammates in Montreal, Perry used Anderson’s sticks, so it made sense to see an “Anderson” stick that he likely picked off the rack. One might assume Perry would have CCM make his new sticks (the JetSpeed FT6 Pro) with Anderson’s specs but his own name on the shaft. That would be a sane assumption, but for whatever reason Perry keeps the name “Anderson” on his sticks.

Superstition or holding onto old memories?

Ekblad’s Potential Switch

Aaron Ekblad hasn’t played this season after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He has, however, been seen skating at the Florida Panthers’ practice facility.

Ekblad has been a Bauer user since entering the NHL as the first overall pick 2014-2015, but recently he has been using an all-Warrior setup. Could Ekblad return from injury with new sticks, helmet and gloves?

Barkov’s Bucket

Another Panthers first-rounder is also making changes to his equipment. Since his rookie season in 2013-2014, Aleksander Barkov has been wearing a Bauer 5100 helmet — until switching to a Bauer Re-Akt 85 this season.

The new helmet clearly hasn’t affected his play, as he is off to another strong start for Florida.

Barzal Flip-Flopping

Ever since he entered the league in 2016-2017 (16th overall draft pick in 2015) with the New York Islanders, center Mathew Barzal has been a CCM user exclusively.

This season Barzal was seen practicing with a Warrior Alpha LX2 Pro stick, only to revert to the CCM Ribcor Trigger 6 for games. He has yet to use the Warrior stick in a game, but it is something for which to keep an eye out. Barzal has been known to practice with random sticks in the past, so it is anyone’s guess what the next game for him might bring.

Honorable Mentions
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  • Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard, the 2023 first overall draft pick, showed up on the big stage using the new Sherwood REKKER Legend Pro stick and gloves. This is a huge endorsement for Sherwood, who also has supporters in Alex DeBrincat, Matthew Tkachuk, William Nylander and Artturi Lehkonen. 
  • Nathan MacKinnon was seen at practice with a new Warrior Super Novium stick. It’s not the first time he’s used Warrior sticks, but certainly something to be mindful of as the season wears on for the Colorado Avalanche superstar. 
  • Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby started this season with an older model CCM Ribcor Reckoner stick and Ribcor 70K skates. This guy refuses to use the latest and greatest look and technology, but it doesn’t seem to impact his performance. 

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