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1960s / Banana-Blade Hockey Sticks
The blades on hockey sticks used to be completely straight. In 1927, Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators briefly experimented with a blade he had curved using hot water. Nothing came of it. Four decades later, Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks partially broke the blade of one of his sticks during a practice. He took a shot with it for kicks. Voila! The puck did some fancy dancing through the air much like a knuckleball does. Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull began experimenting with different versions--some with ridiculous curves they dubbed 'banana blades.' Although they had some obvious drawbacks--accurate passing and backhand shots were much more difficult--the warped pieces of wood immediately became formidable weapons. Of course, the banana blades were universally despised by goalies because the netminders had no idea where the puck was headed. (In all honesty, neither did the shooters!) In an era when some goalies didn't wear masks, there was a serious risk of injury, so the extreme blades were outlawed. Today a curve of only 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch is permitted in organized hockey. A hockey ref once told me that if you put a dime on its edge and it fits under the blade of a stick, the curve is illegal.