What is the difference between a Canadian and an American? The old question is coming up again here at the Olympics, with answers involving eagerness for war, ketchup, the pronunciation of toque or the ability to identify poutine and the Tragically Hip.
But none may be so simple as how one holds a hockey stick. According to sales figures from stick manufacturers, a majority of Canadian hockey players shoot left-handed, and a majority of American players shoot right-handed. No reason is known for this disparity, which cuts across all age groups and has persisted for decades.
Most Canadians, like most Americans, are naturally right-handed, so the discrepancy has nothing to do with national brain-wiring. And how you hold a pencil, say, has little or no bearing on how you hold a stick. A left-handed shooter puts his right hand on top; a right-hander puts the left hand there.