Way back around late February, we started hearing some rumblings that CCM had plans to release a "revolutionary" stick in the fall and the hockey discussion boards and forums started to buzz with anticipation. Truth be told, we at Pure Hockey sort of shrugged our shoulders with a collective "eh." Why? Because we see this every year. All the vendors start giving us sneak peeks of sticks or whatnot and start telling us about how it's ALL going to change the game. It usually doesn't. Oh, don't let my words lead you to believe that we are non-plussed by everything that comes our way. In fact, getting to look at all the new gear each year still makes us all feel like it's Christmas morning. But the noise the vendors make around each release must be taken with a grain of salt. And we have plenty of grains around here. The proof for us is a) getting to use the stuff and of course b).....does it sell?
So when CCM planted some of the RBZ sticks in the NHL in March (Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins were the first to use it) and also brought it, encased in glass and sticking up from a TaylorMade golf bag, to the Let's Play Hockey show in Minnesota, once again I felt like it was just another marketing gimmick, albeit a clever one. If nobody can touch it, I thought, it must mean there's something wrong with it!
It wasn't until we went over to Canton, MA to Reebok's headquarters in the late spring to finally get a detailed product overview and actually hold one that I started feeling like this could be an interesting stick.
If you play golf at all, you know that TaylorMade has a pretty intense passion for manufacturing high performing golf equipment. It was obviously no secret that they were working with CCM, but we found out to what degree at our meeting in Canton. It turns out that CCM has entered into a multi-year collaboration with Taylor-Made, aimed at "redefining the hockey stick category with game changing technologies." The RBZ is the first of a series and with this stick, the focus is on what they believe to be the revolutionary SpeedBlade Technology,™ whose purpose is to give you a pronounced increase in velocity with your shot.
In addition to the SpeedBlade tech, CCM & Taylor-Made promise a better weight distribution, which should produce a faster swing for a faster puck speed. There's also what they call a "constant stiffness profile" all the way through the shaft, which will give you a customized kick point for maximum shot loading. This is something we are very interested in seeing when it comes to actual performance. If it's true that there's a customized kick-point and a blade that will increase velocity in the ways CCM is talking about, then we indeed do have something revolutionary here.
The blade is ceertainly the most interesting part here: CCM & TaylorMade are using some of the same principles that power TaylorMade's Rocketballz golf drivers. So what they've done here is completely eliminate the foam from inside the blade, claiming that foam absorbs some of the energy from the puck, which reduces your velocity. During our meeting in Canton, they passed around a "standard" blade, cut in half and then the RBZ SpeedBlade, where the foam is basically replaced with hollow chambers. First thing I thought was "how will the puck FEEL on the blade though? Will I be sacrificing a ton of puck feel for some added velocity that I may or may not even notice? Because it's effectively hollow, will it break easier?" The jury is out until we test. CCM assures control and durability will be the same, if not better, than other sticks. See below for CCM's comments on it.
So here's what CCM & TaylorMade have to say about the SpeedBlade: it is a "trampoline effect, which is the measurement used to determine the amount of energy return at the point of impact. This is a new concept to hockey but one that has been used in golf for several years now in order to assess how to maximize the performance of a driver to increase ball speed. The exclusive Speed Channels inside the CCM RBZ SpeedBladeTM are specifically engineered to help enhance the C.O.R to minimize energy loss for a rocket of a shot.
They then provided this Q & A to us, for more information:
What was the involvement of TaylorMade in developing this stick?
Our relationship with TaylorMade began a few years ago when we started exchanging ideas on shaft technologies. This evolved into joint research on mutually beneficial materials and concepts for hockey sticks and golf drivers. Over the last couple of years, we’ve looked more closely at how we could use some of TaylorMade’s technologies to help improve the performance of our hockey sticks. That’s when we started working with TaylorMade on new technologies such as SpeedBladeTM.
What does RBZ stand for?
In golf, RBZ stands for RocketBallzTM, the innovative new TaylorMade golf club that is also the inspiration for the CCM RBZ hockey stick. In hockey, RBZ is the product name.
Without foam inside the blade, will it be more fragile?
No. On the contrary. We’ve conducted extensive durability testing on the blade. The three bridges inside the blade actually make it more durable than our normal composite blades.
Without foam inside the blade, will I feel vibrations?
No. The speed channels inside the blade are specifically tuned to help provide an insane shot while at the same time providing feel and control.
Will I shoot harder with this stick?
The CCM RBZ stick, powered by TaylorMade has been engineered to provide insane velocity. NHL rookie sensations Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both noted that the revolutionary SpeedBlade Technology™ was giving them more pop off the blade. Try one to feel the difference.
Is the kick point low, mid or high?
The CCM RBZ features an all new constant flex profile in the shaft. Essentially that means that wherever you place your lower hand is where it will bend. As such, you’re able to maximize the loading since everything below your lower hand will bend. In a typical stick, the kick point is predetermined in the construction for a specific type of benefit such as a quick release. With the RBZ, you determine the kick-point.
So there you have it. We have a couple of testers on the way and we will most definitely be bringing it out on the ice very soon - we will provide another Game Time Review and a video very soon on what our initial impressions are of the stick from the place where it's most important - the ice. If you think you have enough info and want to pre-order it, be our guest! Just click right here to pre-order yours now or read more on the patterns below.