Although he is loathe to alter his equipment and superstitious about changes, Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby is experimenting with a one-piece synthetic hockey stick at training camp.
"I'm trying to give it the best chance I can," Crosby said after practice yesterday at Mellon Arena. "It's something I've tried in the past, but I haven't really given it more than a couple practices."
Assuming he is in the lineup tonight when the Penguins play their preseason opener at home against Columbus, Crosby likely will use the new type of stick in a game for the first time.
Until now, Crosby has used a two-piece stick, a wooden blade attached to a synthetic shaft. Wooden sticks and blades are nearly extinct in the NHL as players have switched to composite material to gain more velocity.
Crosby worked with one-piece sticks over the summer and continued through the first two days of training camp practices. He would like to make a permanent switch to the one-piece if he can get comfortable enough with it.
"I want it to work," he said. "It's something that takes time -- going from wood to one-piece -- but I'm giving it a chance, and we'll see what happens.
"It's been all right. You gain in some areas, and other areas it's a different feel. The shot's a little harder. There's pros and cons. The mechanics aren't any different, just mostly the feel."
After practicing for an hour-plus yesterday -- Crosby's group did not scrimmage -- he came off the ice with one stick that had a broken blade near the heel end. He said he wasn't sure how he broke it and that the synthetic blades break in different ways from the wooden blades.
If he decides he doesn't like the one-piece sticks, he has more wooden blades. But they might not be available in years to come.
"There's no real pressure," he said. "I can only gain from [trying the one-piece sticks]."
Shelly Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721.