Ask Adam: Broken sticks and backwards jerseys

Adam Proteau
112794015 broken stick

Mailbag time again. Thanks to all who submitted a question, whether it made the cut or not.

Hi Adam,

Why is it on-ice hockey officials never pick up broken sticks during play? Are they not a hazard to both players and officials alike? Thank you.
Rob Walsh, London, Ont.

Hi Rob,

The short answer is that the referees and linesmen have more important tasks to deal with – namely, the play that is in motion. You can’t expect officials to prioritize handling a broken stick when they could miss a key penalty, offside or goal call.

Yes, a stick can disrupt play and/or serve as a hazard to players. But the league is explicit in its rules about broken sticks and players at the elite level all are aware of them. So they have to keep a heightened sense of awareness when there’s a piece of lumber (okay, composite wood) strewn across the ice.

That’s the challenge for them; the challenge for officials stays the same. And I think if you were a fan of a team that was on the wrong end of a bad call that happened because an official was bending down to remove a busted stick, I think you’d appreciate the rule as it currently stands.

Good afternoon Adam.

My name is William Massey. I am 64 years old and I have been a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan since I discovered the great sport of hockey when I was 10 years old and moved to Detroit from L.A. I have been intending to write to you for some time and am writing to you with a serious question and concern about our sport.

My question is simple. Quite bluntly: what idiot, or as I suspect, group of idiots, decided NHL hockey would be a better game if the home teams wore their dark sweaters and the visitors always wore white? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I know some years back it was the other way, white at home, dark on the road. I believe it should be that way again.

Allow me to explain my reasoning. As a Red Wings fan, assuming I have season tickets and go to every game, that means every game I see my Wings in red (which by the way is my favorite sweater) and the opponents in white. It’s like seeing the same two teams every game. I would much prefer seeing the Wings in white (with an occasional red home) and the opponents in their colors. Then, each game you see the Wings in white, against the blue of the Leafs, the red of the Hawks and Canadiens, the black of the Bruins, and yes, even the gaudy new green of the Stars. It just makes more sense to me.

And if I’m watching the games on TV, it would make the game more entertaining with the different colors each game. The NHL has long advertised it’s game as the most colorful game on ice. And so it should be. But with the current sweater arrangement of dark at home and white on the road, it’s all the same. What can be done to change this situation? Thanks for your time in reading my letter and for your thoughts on the matter. Perhaps someday the powers that be in the game will realize the mistake they have made and go back to the way it used to be. I just hope it happens in my lifetime. In closing, as always – GO RED WINGS!
William Massey, Arlington, Tex.

Good afternoon, William.

Clearly, you’re passionate about this. So it pains me to tell you that, absent a total reversal in league policy, it’s likely the status quo is here to stay.

The policy first came into effect during the 2003-04 season, in part because of the practical issue of team equipment managers having to carry two sets of jerseys on the road – their dark jersey, as well as their white jerseys to use if a home team they were playing on the trip had decided to wear their alternate jersey.

Under the current scenario, teams can pack only their white jerseys and not have to be concerned with what their opponents will wear. There were also increased cargo/travel costs associated with the pre-2003-04 rules – and the whites-on-the-road solution helps in that regard.

I get questions on this topic every year and presume I’ll continue to for as long as I answer reader questions. I do agree with your point of view, but it’s tough to see a scenario in which we revert to the practices of a decade ago.