By AJ Lee
Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux entered the NHL 28 days past his 20th birthday in February of 2008. Throughout the decade in which he’s played, “G” has become known as one of the most exciting players in the league. He’s scored 22 goals or more in six of the last eight seasons. Since 2010-11, only Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane have more points. After battling nagging injuries the previous two years, Giroux had his greatest season in 2017-18, with career highs in goals (34), assists (68) and points (102). Heading into his second decade in the NHL, Giroux is aging well. So too, apparently, is his hockey stick.
Yes, that’s right. A lot of the consistency that Giroux has produced over the last 10 years can be linked to the stick that he brings onto the ice.
Giroux currently plays with the Bauer Vapor 1X LE (“Limited Edition”). It’s not a new model — Bauer updated the 1X in 2017 with the 1X Lite, and the original 1X officially launched in early 2015. He’d previously used the Vapor APX2. According to geargeek.com, CCM and Bauer run neck-and-neck for dominance within the NHL’s stick market, the former with slightly more than one-third of the league’s players using one of their models, the latter with slightly less.
While the 1X Lite has quickly become the second-most popular stick in the league (13.9% of the league’s players carry it, compared to the Warrior Alpha QX’s league-high total of 14.3%), the 1X LE has all but disappeared. Giroux was the only player still using it at season’s end.
The stick that Giroux plays with is fairly whippy, with an 87 flex. That’s the low end of average (between 85 and 100). At the extremes, 6-foot-9 Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara uses a 150-flex, while Calgary dangler Johnny Gaudreau has a 55-flex.
The Vapor is Bauer’s “quick release” line of sticks (Nexus prioritizes accuracy, Supreme is a power stick). The design details include a lower kick point than Bauer’s other lines, a much rounder shaft and a stiff blade for quick puck movement.
When the 1X LE launched in 2015, Bauer touted it as “the ideal stick for the crafty player [who] excels in puck handling and quick-release shots.” It was more aggressively tapered (known as QRT, or “Quick Release Taper” technology) to load and recoil lower than its predecessors, theoretically optimizing the user’s ability to get off snap shots. According to Bauer, the Vapor 1X, for which Giroux gave up the Bauer APX2, is lighter, stronger and faster than the APX2, loads 20% faster and has a 28% quicker recoil.
Lately, Bauer’s promotional approach has been to film its clients who are noted for their puck-handling skills, showing off those skills. Back when the APX2 launched, Bauer put out a video of Giroux talking about why he liked that particular model.
“I like my sticks nice and simple,” Giroux said at the time. “Any time you pick a stick out, you have to feel the trust in the stick. You can’t be thinking, ‘If I shoot this, where’s it going to go? How’s it going to feel?’ It’s really important that you go out there, you grab the stick and you know what you’re going to do with it.”
AJ Lee is marketing coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.