When your stick breaks, you get desperate. It’s hard to defend — and nearly impossible to score — without one.  

In those moments, you have a few options. You can struggle in the defensive zone and try to block shots.  You can grab a stick from a teammate.  You can head to the bench for a replacement.

You cannot, though, play with an opponent’s stick, as Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang found out: 

Letang was given two minutes for playing with an illegal stick, along with a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct by referees Mike Leggo and Eric Furlatt.  Here’s what the NHL rulebook has to say about the situation. 

Rule 10.3 – Broken Sticks:

A player who has lost or broken his stick may receive a replacement stick by having one handed to him from his own players’ bench; by having one handed to him by a teammate on the ice; or, by picking up his own unbroken stick or that of a teammate’s from the ice.

A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice, or if he picks up and plays with an opponent’s stick.

A player may not participate in the play using a goalkeeper’s stick. A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.

Letang wasn’t the only player to try this move.  

A few seasons back, Bobby Ryan – then with the Anaheim Ducks – scored a goal with Mikko Koivu’s stick.  In that sequence, Koivu lost his stick and ended up taking Ryan’s. Ryan then retrieved Koivu’s, which had been left on the ice along the boards.  Based on how the sticks changed hands, it’s reasonable to see how the officials missed that one. Ryan, though, made sure to let Koivu know about it after the goal.