An Evgeny Kuznetsov autographed puck. A Dave Martinez autographed baseball. A Markieff Morris...
The Heritage Stick Co.: The Silver Stick Maker
(via Comcast Sportsnet)
If you were on hand at Verizon Center on Dec. 8th when the Caps beat the Red Wings in an awesome shoot out, you also noticed delighted fans walking around the concourse holding hockey sticks. The sticks were purchased for a charity fundraiser to benefit the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation called Pick-A-Stick. All of the sticks were signed by a Caps player, except five. The fans that bought those sticks got to meet T.J. Oshie after the game and he signed them personally. The lucrative fundraiser is always a big hit with fans, but where do all those sticks come from? The answer is The Heritage Stick Co. The proud owner of the leader in the branded stick market, Aaron Logan, was on hand to help the Caps with the signing and meet the fans.
“Heritage started in January 2005,” said Logan. “We began manufacturing sticks that hockey players could play with, but soon found a niche market in the branded souvenir market which none of the other big stick manufacturers cared about. We allowed teams to be part of the design process, rather than just sending sticks already designed. This was what allowed us to gain traction in the NHL as so many teams wanted this product, but wanted to include their own slogans, logos, sponsors, etc.”
The Heritage Stick Company‘s first NHL client was the Edmonton Oilers. Soon after that, more and more NHL teams started to come on board. Washington has been buying sticks since 2006. This season the stick company based in Newmarket, Ontario will supply 21 NHL teams with branded signature sticks and over 115 professional and amateur teams across North America. In addition to the customized souvenir sticks, Heritage will also provide commemorative sticks to NHL players reaching a milestone in their career. Fans remember when former Caps right winger Mike Knuble played his 1,000th game on Dec. 20, 2011. He was presented a Silver Stick custom made by Heritage.
“The Silver Stick has long been the traditional gift for reaching the 1,000 game milestone. Only 290 players in the history of the game have reached this milestone. This season we could have 7 more,” explained Logan. “The sticks are made of stainless steel. It takes close to 40 hours of fabrication, polishing and engraving to get the mirror like finish before it is presented. The sticks are matched to the player’s actual game sticks and players recognize this immediately. Players are very picky about their sticks, they spend a lot of time taping, cutting, and flexing. Over a career they know the tools of the trade so well that when they are handed a 32lb stick and realize that it is their actual stick, it means a lot.”
Logan realizes how significant the commemorative awards are to the recipients.
“I have spoken to a lot of guys we have made sticks for and they always say that, besides team accomplishments, this is the one item they love to show off in their trophy room because of how hard it was to achieve. By the end of this season our total will be around 40 Silver Sticks, a couple of silver microphones and a number of silver pucks. Not just anyone can order these. We reserve this item for special achievements,” he said.
Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin, is closing in on his 500th career goal, and The Heritage Stick Co. is getting ready for the big day.
“To mark the occasion, a Gold Stick is the norm for this milestone,” said Logan. “We are currently working on a Gold Stick for Ovi. There have only been 42 other players to achieve this NHL milestone. He would become the first Russian born player and only the 2nd Washington Capital. Jaromir Jagr was the first in 2003. Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks is also closing in on 500 goals and should reach the milestone this season.”
Logan takes great pride in working with teams to create sticks that are used for such a wide variety of purposes.
“I love that our sticks are used by team foundations to raise money. I love seeing our sticks given away to lucky fans at the end of a game. I love seeing a stick at a charity event and knowing that the money that is raised will benefit a worthy cause. I also love walking into a sports bar and seeing our sticks hanging on a wall because it shows me how important that team is too the patrons of the establishment,” he shared.
Every season Logan visits as many clients as possible. The Capitals had long been a client, but this was the first time he had been to Washington for a visit. The Pick-A-Stick promotion by the MSE Foundation was the perfect opportunity for him to meet the players, the staff, and the fans.
“I have known from a distance for a long time that Caps fans were supportive of their team. Walking around the city on game day I saw so many people wearing Capitals gear that it me excited for puck drop. The MSE Foundation seems to have a wonderful following amongst the Capitals fans and all of their fundraising specialty nights are unique. You don’t see this much dedication to the local community in every city. It was special to watch the excitement on the faces of fans who bought a stick for Pick-A-Stick that night.”
“I get a lot of joy from what I do,” Logan added. “The visits to the teams each year are my way of recharging the battery. We work hard to make sure the sticks are produced and shipped to the teams in time for the start of the season. For me, seeing them in use is the icing on the cake.”