Jared Quartuccio – Custom Services Manager, Sticks
“They’re perfect, I’m in.”
Those are the words that I strive for every time I meet with a player. Most guys in the NHL are incredibly in-tune with their sticks and getting them to accept a new technology isn’t always a guarantee.
Sometimes it takes weeks or months of testing and retesting before a player finally gives me the green light. With this new stick (Covert QRL), it’s been different. We (Warrior) had guys putting samples in-play, in games… that usually never happens.
If there’s one thing that’s consistent among all the Pros I work with, it’s that they’re always looking for a quicker release. They’re not really asking for lighter sticks anymore because we’re at a good weight now, but they always want to be quicker getting the puck to the net.
If Warrior can deliver a stick that is quicker releasing and great feeling, the word is going to get around the league. That’s the thing about NHL players; they all love to talk about gear. They’re all such perfectionists that if they spot something or hear about something that may give them an edge, they want in on it. That’s especially true about sticks. Word of mouth gets the ball rolling most of the time and gets me in the door with new players.
Now, I should probably say that the difference between Pro sticks and retail sticks used to be pretty significant. The Pros always had the best stuff and sticks at retail just weren’t on the same level technology wise. Not anymore. Today, the difference between our sticks the guys are using in the NHL and the top-end Warrior sticks in stores are virtually identical. There may be some minor spec differences (flex, curve) but the technology is exactly the same. It really is amazing how the retail market has changed in the last 10-years.
We started testing the QRL technology in the NHL in January and February of 2015. Ironically enough, Joe Pavelski was one of the guys that were first to get the QRL design. I chose Joe as an early tester because he’s really great about giving honest feedback and can feel subtle differences in his sticks as well as explain in great detail what he likes and doesn’t like about his sticks. He’s very particular and in-tune to his sticks, so I trust what he has to say.
Joe was already happy with his sticks but I told him I was coming up to San Jose (with Peter Millar our Pro Rep) with a couple new samples and asked if he’d check them out in practice. I told Joe that the new sticks were designed for a quicker release (something he and I had talked about previously, Joe knows that when he gets the puck he has a limited window for release, so the sticks have to perform), gave them to him and off he went. He put the two sticks through the paces in practice and I went for a coffee.
I walked back towards the ice as practice was winding down and Joe was finishing up his normal routine of shooting and tipping some pucks and as he’s skating off the ice he says, “The puck was really hot, coming off hotter than normal.”
Music to my ears.
With that, I picked up my bag and headed into the dressing room to meet with a couple other guys and talk to Mike (Mike Aldrich, Sharks Equipment Manager) to see if he needed anything. I didn’t get three steps in the door and Mike says to me, “Joe is going to use those sticks tomorrow night, we need to get six more right away.”
And just like that, Joe Pavelski switched to the QRL technology. I put the rush order in for those six and then 12 more. All Joe did after that was go on to finish seventh in the NHL in goals and then followed it up this season by finishing fifth in goals and eighth in league scoring.
But that’s not the end of the story.
This season, I circled back around to Logan (Couture), who was recovering from an injury. I’ve never given up on Logan and he has always been a bit of a pet project for me, personally. We’ve made sticks for him a few times in the past and the reaction has always been the same, “The sticks feel good but they’re just not there yet.”
So, with the feedback and success of Pavelski in mind, I had two new samples made for Logan and hopped a plane to drop them off to him personally in San Jose…and the Sharks cancelled practice that day.
I left the sticks with the Equipment Manager and drove right back to the airport.
The next morning I’m scrolling Instagram on my phone and I see the Sharks posted a picture of Couture at the morning skate…with the new sticks! I immediately called Peter Millar and told him Couture was using the sticks in the morning skate and we had to watch the game that night to see if he used them in the game.
Sure enough, that night, Logan was out there with his new QRL sticks.
The next morning the order came in from the Sharks and we had to fast track production for his sticks. When Mike (Aldrich) called me he said that Logan was going to “milk those two sticks” until his order arrived. Three games later, Logan had his order in hand and went on to have his most productive months of the season (he’s also leading the playoffs in scoring).
We finally got him. Persistence paid off.
But it wasn’t just me and Peter (Millar) hounding Couture that got him to switch, ultimately, it’s the stick. The stick has to perform. The technology has to deliver. Because if it doesn’t, the player isn’t going to waste his time and he’ll go to a different manufacturer. The QRL does that every time you use it.
Remember what I said earlier about word of mouth getting me in the door? Well, Warrior is getting calls every day from players looking for Quick Release technology. They’ve heard about and seen the results and they want in on the action.
It’s going to be a busy summer for me. But that’s not a bad thing. I love chasing those four little words…
“They’re perfect, I’m in.”