Eric Fehr uses Ovechkin's sticks, hosts radio shows
Through the first four games of this season, Caps winger Eric Fehr had zero goals and was a minus-1. Then, before a late-October game in Atlanta, he started using Alex Ovechkin's dramatically curved CCM sticks for the first time in his career. On his very first shift carrying Ovechkin's lumber, Fehr scored his first goal of the season.
"It's the curve," Ovechkin later told Fehr. "It's the curve."
(Ovechkin didn't feel like talking about it, but Fehr assured me that was a direct quote.)
So Fehr--who had always used a straight-curved Easton stick--stuck with the Ovechkin CCM stick, using a one-inch plug to make it a little longer, and he kept scoring. He's had seven goals in the past 14 games, during which he's been a plus-8. Obviously, that's a 41-goal pace; Fehr said it's one of the two hottest streaks of his career. You can attribute this to various factors--health and Mike Knuble's presence, to name just two--but don't forget the sticks.
"He just asked me if I wanted to try it, [said I] would feel better and start scoring," Fehr told me. "I said sure, I did, and I started scoring. I've been using 'em ever since, so it's been going well so far."
Of course, I would have known these details and more had I merely been regularly listening to Fehr's weekly spots with 1570 CKMW, "Your sports station in Southern Manitoba." His Thursday afternoon segments, dubbed "From Capital Hill With Eric Fehr," are a mixture of Fehr monologues with questions-and-answers from fans. (Listen here. And the program is sponsored by Winkler's own Leatherdale Insurance, which came up with the "From Capital Hill" tag, even though Capital Hill technically isn't in Northern Virginia.)
Fehr's segments cover goings-on both on-ice and off. In late October, he discussed how he and a bunch of his teammates went to the 9:30 Club to see The Tragically Hip, and "met up with the band after the concert just to say hello" and to talk Caps. And then he launched into stick talk:
Last week in Atlanta, I changed things up a little bit. Instead of going with the same stick I used all year, I opted to go for one with a bit of a bigger curve. Alex Ovechkin had been bugging me for at least a year to try his stick. I've always used a pretty straight stick, and he's always tried to get me into a huge curve. This year I changed my stick from a small curve to a medium curve. It still wasn't enough to satisfy Ovie. After once again saying I should try his stick, I decided to use it for one practice. It felt a lot better than I thought it would. I decided to use it for that night's game against the Thrashers. On my very first shift, in my first game with that stick, I got a breakaway. Not sure what I wanted to do, and running out of space, I took a shot, high glove. The puck got up a lot quicker than I was used to. I was able to put it past the goalie just as I approached the crease. I guess we'll have to thank Ovie for that one.
Then came a couple episodes away from stick talk. Fehr talked about the team's down time in New York, and how they rented out Lucky Strike for a team bowling event, and how he and roommate Jeff Schultz went to Frankie and Johnnie's steakhouse since those are the names of their fathers. ("The steaks were pretty good, but I don't think they can beat the steaks from the Fehr Farm," he said.) But last week, there was another stick update.
A few weeks back I reported on how I switched to start using Ovechkin's sticks. They've been working out really well for me. I like everything about them except for one thing: they keep breaking. Some of you may have seen the shootout in Hockey Night in Canada against the Toronto Maple Leafs when my stick shattered mid-shot. That was the third stick I'd used that game. I think the reason for this is because I use a little bit of a longer stick than Ovie. Because of that, the sticks have a little bit more flex, causing the sticks to become weaker. I've put in an order to make them a little bit stiffer. Now the only debate is whether I should keep Ovie's name on the sticks, or call it my own.
As for his radio career, Fehr said the station approached him, that he writes his own material (send him your questions here), that it's not easy to come up with a new theme every week, and that the feedback from Winkler has been extremely positive.
"I like it that people in Winkler know what's going on," he told me. "It's a little bit of coffee shop talk. They were always asking my dad about stuff, so now they have an opportunity just to ask me straight up and I can answer their questions."
Ovie's sticks keep breaking--three during the recent game in Montreal--but Fehr said the new order should fix that. As for the only remaining debate, whether he should keep Ovie's name on his sticks?
"It still says Ovie on it," Fehr noted. "I just order them as is. I don't care."
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