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08-28-2007, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Kevin Wey View Post
If you want a real challenge stickhandling, stickhandle a golf ball on garage pavement (it's smooth, so if starts bouncing uncontrollably, it's probably you and not the surface). This will help you develop quick hands and get more feel in your stick/hands. It's not easy.

That said, though, as much fun as it is to be a slick stickhandler, it's fairly useless at higher levels of hockey. Does Joe Thornton rely on amazing hands? No, he uses powerful strides to generate speed and then also intelligently uses his body to shield the puck and stickhandles intelligently to shield the puck as well. He doesn't often use quick movements to do this, either. Much of Jagr's career is based off of puck protection. Vanek does this well, too, as does Kyle Okposo.

Plus, at higher levels of hockey, a defenseman won't pay any attention to your sick stickhandling and will only proceed to separate you from the puck by playing the body. About 10 years ago I was watching Viktor Kozlov come down on Eric Weinrich and Kozlov did a fairly slick stickhandling move that you might see in pond hockey and you could physically see Weinrich wait for Kozlov to finish the move/attempted deke and proceed to poke check the puck and play the body on him after Kozlov was done. Weinrich created a turnover on this play and Kozlov only looked foolish.

So, slick stickhandling might get you on YouTube, but most high level players do not rely upon slick stickhandling. Besides, the more you stickhandle, the less in position you are to shoot the puck. Only if you're carrying the puck alongside you, and not in front of you, are you always ready to take that shot. So, if you're stickhandling away in front of you, a smart goalie will not make any commitment until you bring your stick into a shooting position on the forehand or the backhand.

Quick and soft hands are important in tight, but there's a difference between quick hands and ostentatious stickhandling.

Lastly, if you're doing a lot of slick stickhandling, it probably means you're missing opportunities to pass to puck to teammates. It's easier for a goalie to track the puck on your stick skating as fast as you can skate than if you pass the puck, which you can do at a much faster velocity than you can skate it.
I somewhat agree with your post, stickhandling too much is generally not that great for higher levels of hockey. But practicing stickhandling is great, it builds up your muscle memory for the quick movements and it gives you confidence to pull off the move.

I do agree that knowing how to protect the puck as well as good skating should be your primary goal, but having the ability to pull off a deke can really turn you from a good player to a dangerous player.

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