Why Do Hockey Players Leave Their Sticks On The Ice?

Why hockey players drop their sticks

When watching a hockey game, you will see players drop their sticks on the ice on many occasions whether accidentally or intentionally. What’s so surprising is that they do not go back to pick up the stick. Yes, they just leave it lying on ice!

The big question is; Why do hockey players leave their sticks on the ice? Research shows that there are two main reasons why a player will leave their stick on the ice. Viz:

1. If the stick is broken, it is illegal to continue playing with it. Hence, the player must drop it immediately and get another stick to continue the game.

2. The player does not want to get out of position and give his opponents an opportunity to score while retrieving his stick.

Now let’s discuss these two situations more carefully.

1. Dropping a Broken Stick on the Ice:

As earlier stated, it is illegal to play hockey with a broken stick. If a player is caught playing with a broken stick, he will receive a minor penalty (2-minute power play).

Hence, players are expected to drop their stick immediately they discover that it’s broken and stop making use of it

How often does a hockey stick break during the game?

All players used hardwood hockey sticks from the inception of the sport until the 1980s, and the sticks held up well. However, sticks began to break more frequently following the introduction of the one piece composite sticks in the 1990s and 2000s.

The one piece composite sticks that today’s players utilize are fantastic. They are extremely light and produce really powerful shots. For whatever reason, they break quite easily.

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Apparently, the composite sticks can easily break if they receive a nick or a slight split in them. Sadly, a player may not realise if his stick gets a small crack. Hence, the stick can simply break when he makes even a relatively soft pass.

For coaches, the most frustrating part is seeing your player go open for a great shot, only to have his stick break as he takes the shot.

These sticks also appear to shatter a lot when blocking shots from the opposite team. It’s never easy to watch your team go on a penalty kill and have one of your players’ sticks shattered.

Honestly, the NHL players are quite intelligent, and the power play players will focus on the player who does not have the stick.

All of this is to suggest that if your stick breaks, you must drop it immediately and pray that it does not result in a scoring opportunity for your opponent.

Shouldn’t you just slash the other player’s stick and break it?

No, you shouldn’t do that. It’s an automatic 2-minute penalty if you slash an opponent’s stick and it breaks.

This is a good rule, but it can be annoying at times. As earlier stated, some of these sticks tend to break easily. Hence, a little slash on your opponent’s stick may break it and result in a minor penalty.

Nonetheless, a relatively mild stick slash and a nice strategic manoeuvre on opponent’s stick is legal. However, players must ensure not to break the stick in the process.

2. Not picking up a stick to stay in position:

Because hockey is a game of contact, it’s quite common for a player to lose his stick during the game. If a player drops his stick by accident, he is free to pick it up because it has not broken.

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When a player loses a stick that isn’t broken during play, they must decide whether to go pick it up or stay in their defensive position.

Perhaps going to pick up the stick is the best option because, without it, you can’t play hockey. Indeed, players will rush to pick up their stick if they can do it fast, but not if it takes them out of the game.

When it comes to professional hockey, the game is so regimented and tight that any deviation from position will result in a goal opportunity for the opposition.

Although it may not appear so, players only have little ‘windows’ and places to move through. Teams are so proficient at defending that it’s difficult for players to come up with offensive ideas.

If a team slips out of position or produces a turnover, however, hockey players are so adept that they may capitalize on little mistakes by the opposing team. Of course, we do not see this often because the NHL players are so good at being where they are supposed to be on the ice.

Why Can’t Hockey Players Pick Up Their Stick?

Well, if it takes a player too long to pick up his stick it implies that the offensive players in the NHL are too good and somehow create an offensive scoring chance.

It is actually a preferable alternative for the player to play without a stick and ensure that his body is in the proper position to prevent his opponent from scoring.

If you take a few seconds to get your stick and get out of position, your opponent has enough time to put the puck in the net.

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Yes, it’s difficult to defend without a stick, but that is far better than having a player move out of position while hunting for a stick on the ice.

So, when a player drops a stick, you’ll notice that they don’t pick it up and ensure that they’re in the right defensive posture. They’ll just do their best until a teammate clears the defensive zone.


Thank you for sticking to the end of our article. We hope you are fully equipped with the right answer of why hockey players leave their sticks on the ice.

Check Out Some Interesting NHL Facts:

1. How Often Do Hockey Sticks Break?

2. Do Hockey Players Lose Teeth?

3. What Is A Power Play In Ice Hockey?

4. What Percentage of NHL Players are Canadian?

5. Why do hockey players leave their sticks on the ice?