I’d been getting regular weekend calls from a number marked “private.” Before this job, I wouldn’t pick up anonymous calls, but now I did, since 9 out of 10 times it was one of my pro hockey players needing something: “I need a bigger toe-curve;” “I need more flex;” “I need new golf clubs;” “I need a flat screen TV for my vacation home…” Yeah, I was the guy they called for all that, and more.
But these calls were legit. Martin St. Louis was still having stick issues, and he was one of my most important players. He felt like his sticks were too stiff, but he didn’t want to go down a flex.
The stiffness of a stick correlates to a number, for example a 90 flex is more stiff than an 85. What most players don’t know is that there can be slight differences between one 90 flex and another 90 flex, even within the same batch of sticks. This is due to manufacturing tolerances. Meaning, if a stick is within a 5-point tolerance of a 90, then it’s called a 90, even if it’s really closer to an 85.
For pro sticks, Easton didn’t even print the flex on the shaft, like you’d see in a store. The reason was they didn’t want a competing company to grab a famous player’s stick and simply have all the specs spelled out for them to copy. So Easton came up with a letter/number combo that only the reps like myself were supposed to know how to decipher.
All that said, we were in a bind with Marty, because he was asking for something that couldn’t be delivered… or shall I say, could, but with too much wasted materials and manpower- even for a player of his caliber. What he was asking for was basically to make our manufacturing tolerances tighter than a Brodeur five-hole (that’s hockey-speak for the spot between a goalie’s legs, and Brodeur rarely let one slip through the five-hole).
We decided to just give Marty a lower flex stick without telling him, just to see how he liked it, since the numbers weren’t on the sticks anyway. Well, you know the way a small lie can whiplash into a bigger problem?
Marty started asking about the letter/number combos on his sticks, and started comparing his old ones to the new ones. Before you knew it, I was scrambling to come up with an answer that made sense. Finally, I decided that just coming clean was the best solution.
We agreed that Easton would deliver sticks in the lower third of his usual flex to make him happy… but there was still this little thing with his curve that he wanted to fix, and maybe I could get his kids some Easton stuff…