I always thought I could remember a video of Nifty Middleton pulling this off way back but when I you-tubed his highlights, I was mistaken. He was a gifted stickhandler but I didn’t see any toe drag.
Category Archives: stickhandling
As I strolled out the dressing room around 5:00 PM yesterday, after a fine late afternoon game of shinny at the recplex, there was a wee lad in the hallway with a stick and an orange ball. He looked like a little brother of one of the slightly older kids who had followed our time slot. He was just rolling that ball back and forth, stickhandling it easily, lazily, almost unconsciously. As I approached him on my way out, he stickhandled the ball and himself out of my way and said not a word as I slid by and thanked him for moving. As I got to the other end of the hall, I looked back and he was still at it.
There’s just something about stickhandling. It’s like waves against the side of a boat on summer day, or rain coming down – it soothes the soul of any hockey player.
I’d love to know who invented the dangle, also known as the toe-drag, but regardless of whoever it was, I gotta tell you, this move is a wonderful thing and in the grand scheme of mankind’s accomplishments, the dangle isn’t given nearly enough space at the top of the list.
The toe of the blade is the key element to being able to pull off the dangle. You see, the dangle requires that the toe of the stick be used as the sweet spot to pull the puck back in towards the puck handler in a lightning quick motion. The rounder the blade at the toe, the more blade on the ice during that motion. With a rectangular toe, you have only the point of the blade and too much chance for the sweeping dangle motion to miss the puck, or not pull it back cleanly on the line you need. For most of adult life, my selection of hockey sticks has been influenced most by the shape of the toe of the blade – not the curve of the blade itself – but the roundness of the blade at the toe.
As a kid, I remember the old Koho 201’s, the ones with the five blue strips down near the bottom of the shaft, had beautiful blades for this. But I cannot remember ever dangling with that stick. In fact, I cannot remember when I first used this move. I’d hate to think I went through all my younger years and never used it but my memory doesn’t go back that far I guess. Fortunately, I think I probably get a chance to try it every game I play now.
To all you defencemen who know I’m going to do it, and who break it up cleanly and make me look ridiculous when you do (because nothing looks more minor- league than a forward who’s dangle doesn’t dangle the D), may you be fooled at least some of the time on future dangle attempts. To all you defencemen who get bitten by the dangle, don’t despair, you’ll get another chance because for a forward whose dangle works once, you know he’s going to try it again.
Ah…the dangle. Long live the dangle.