Hockey players are taught to have a firm grip on their stick and there are not too many reasons that a stick should ever leave a player’s hand, but it does happen. If you ever have seen a stick laying on the ice during a game and wondered why can’t NHL players pick up a dropped stick?
Hockey players can pick up sticks but not if it is broken or damaged as this can cause an infraction. It is illegal in most official leagues to hold or use a broken stick. Being caught using or even holding a broken stick will lead to a 2-minute minor penalty for an equipment violation.
Sticks can come loose for a variety of reasons without being broken. Some of these include a hard slash, a puck hitting the shaft of a non-suspecting player or a collision that forces a stick or other gear to come loose.
Regardless of the situation, as long as this stick is not broken, the player is allowed to return to the stick and pick it up.
Sometimes it is not possible to go back to the stick without leaving the team in a vulnerable position and a player may opt to get a stick from the bench or simply play without one!
We have to see some players such as Auston Matthews show off some skill while passing a dropped stick to a teammate.
Watch any NHL hockey game and you are bound to see at least one player wind up for a shot only to have their stick snap underneath him from the force of the stick flexing down into the ice. These are unfortunate consequences of new stick technology. Trading performance for durability has become pretty standard among youth and professional players. A shot is not the only reason for a blocked shot, however. Pretty consistently we see sticks being broken from face-offs, blocked shots, and slashes.
Many times these are the breaks that the audience may confuse for simply a blocked shot as the stick may appear solid but it is not playable. A stick can break anywhere on the shaft or blade and be deemed not playable Sometimes unintentionally, but more often than not intentionally broken by angry players letting out their frustrations on their $400+ elite stick. (Read my piece on expensive vs. cheap hockey sticks)
As long as a stick is not broken, an NHL player is allowed to pick that stick back up.
Some other important notes to consider is that it is illegal to carry two sticks at once meaning you are not allowed to hand a teammate a stick on the ice for him without having dropped your own.
It is also illegal to move a broken or dropped stick into a position that affects the play.
This stops a player from using a stick to stop a scoring chance or prevents an opposing player from retrieving their stick. Next time you’re wondering why that player skated right past that stick on the ice, just remember, it’s probably broken.