At the NHL All-Star skills contest in January, Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara blasted a puck at 108.8 mph—the hardest NHL slap shot on record. The 6-foot-9-inch, 255-pound Slovakian did it with the help of a short, self-taught, shaggy-headed Californian he’s never met.
Isaac Garcia of athletic gear maker Warrior Sports designed Chara’s stick in suburban San Diego, aided by a slap-shot-taking robot, a stick-breaking machine, and a layman’s guide to physics.
“It’s really about asking the right questions and understanding what’s in their head,” says Garcia, 36. Warrior, owned by New Balance Athletic Shoes, is a challenger to dominant stick makers Easton Sports, Bauer Performance Sports, and Reebok-CCM. Chara, 35, once used Warrior, switched to Easton, then returned to Warrior. “I like my stick to be as light as possible and as stiff as possible,” he says.