Unless you’re a player who’s sold his or her soul to the hockey gods, committing eternally to one of the two without room for wavering, the choice between black and white tape is one that holds a certain mystical allure. All too often, perhaps, we’re faced with the decision: black, or white? Not that the proverbial drawing of the line separates just these two colorless choices, but it’s with special occasion or perhaps redefined preference that the pinks and yellows of the tape inventory make their way from the numerable company of their shelves. Quite simply, the choice for hockey players is limited to two. Why? Well, I suppose it’s almost always been this way. For years, now, players, coaches, analysts the hockey world over have debated whether one shade was better than the respective tint. Who really knows? I do.
When it comes to hockey tape, black tape is leagues above white tape.
Well, it could be. I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here, just for a minute. Let’s say black tape has been proven to be more effective than white tape. First, we need some evidence. Let’s talk statistics for a moment. This past season, in the NHL, 60% of goals scored were scored by players using black tape. This is completely made up, mind you, but it will give us an impetus for our reasoning that black tape is better than white. Now, onto the reasoning. Perhaps the most popular school of thought in the tape debate is that black tape, being close in pigment to the slice of vulcanized rubber we call the puck, helps to conceal it as a shot is released, making it more difficult for the goalie to track the trajectory. Some players, perhaps including some ‘chellers, will stand by this philosophy. Ask an NHL goalie, though (or any goalie, for the matter), and you might get a laugh or a sarcastic jest. “There’s no difference,” they’ll tell you. I’m inclined to believe the latter. Who knows better than the goalie, right?
The choice, therefore, is purely preference.
We knew this from the beginning, though, right? I mean, there are arguments for white tape, as well – namely, that white tape allows “elite” stickhandlers to “see the puck” better. In reality, the independent variable is the personal preference of each individual player, with the dependent variable being the resulting type of tape. Preference, as you well know, can be derived from many things, including (but not limited to) upbringing, specific experiences, superstition, etc. Many players use black or white tape because that’s what their parents bought for them when they went to the hockey store as a youth. They just never find a good reason to change it up. Others, perhaps, have (by chance) scored more goals when using one type, and therefore are convinced that their performance is influenced by their tape choice. Maybe there are some players out there that switch between games, alternating between black and white out of recursive superstition. The commonality here is that the choice always seems to be a figment of the mind, rather than reality. Let us not discount this, though. A hockey player skating with peace of mind is certainly better than one going into a game having toiled with breaking superstition. Don’t believe me? Ask Sidney Crosby . . .
So, whether you’ve actually found an advantage to using black or white tape, follow a specific process for choosing, or just do so arbitrarily, I suppose there is justification for each. As for me, I’ll stick to using white, because frankly, I’m an “elite stickhandler”. . . or so I wish.
Tags: hockey tape