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The NHL will have a new on-ice uniform supplier beginning with the 2023-25 NHL season. That supplier will be mega-retailer Fanatics.
The NHL and Fanatics announced a new a new 10-year partnership which will be the first time the brand’s logo has appeared on in-game uniforms. They have, however, produced MLB jerseys bearing the Nike Swoosh since 2017.
Fanatics already has a long-running partnership with the NHL. They produce replica jerseys and off-ice apparel worn by players and coaches.
Last summer, the NHL and Adidas — the NHL’s current partner — announced they would not continue producing the league’s sweaters following the 2023-24 season.
“This expansion of our partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of our shared commitment to innovation, performance and serving our players and fans,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“Our players and fans should look forward to what Fanatics will bring to the best uniforms in all of sports.”
Well, Gar’, I hate to break it to you, but a lot of fans weren’t exactly thrilled with this news.
Fans Aren’t Pumped About The NHL’s New Uniform Supplier
While we don’t know what Fanatics has in store when it rolls out its line of on-ice sweaters, we do know what their replica jerseys are like. This has fans understandably concerned.
Fanatics replica sweaters have been criticized for not carrying a level of quality congruent to their price tag. There are plenty of examples online of people shelling out for replica jerseys featuring cheap adhesive numbers and nameplates that eventually peel off.
And that’s if they’re even applied evenly to begin with.
Can’t wait for an nhl player to get a jersey where the entire thing is askew— Tyler (@tjl660) March 21, 2023
Couldn’t have made a worse decision— Joseph Sprott (@SprottJoseph) March 21, 2023
Unbelievable. I sincerely hope this deal leads to fanatics improving quality. It won’t, but I can dream.— Bill 🇨🇦 (@BigBill_8) March 21, 2023
Some of these concerns seemed to be addressed in the NHL and Fanatics’ joint announcement. It made sure to mention that Fanatics plans to produce its game jerseys in the same Quebec factory where Adidas produces its official game jerseys.
NHL senior executive vice president of marketing and chief branding officer Brian Jennings touted the plans for a smooth transition of jersey-making power.
“What we anticipate is a professional and seamless transition. We’ll have a pivot point and move on over to Fanatics for the ’24-25 season with that same thrust for our event designs and team designs being at the forefront.”
That’s good news, as I think Adidas did a pretty great job when it came to designing jerseys. They were instrumental in designing the inaugural jerseys for the NHL’s two newest franchises, the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken. The company was also responsible for the wildly successful Reverse Retro program.
If that continues, it’ll bode well for the future of NHL sweaters.
Who Else Could The NHL Have Gone With?
Fanatics was always the expected frontrunner, but there were others rumored to be in the mix.
From the start, there were thoughts that Nike, who produces jerseys for IIHF and Olympic tournaments would try to get back into the NHL. Another was CCM, which already produces jerseys for the American Hockey League.
Hat giant New Era was even rumored to be in the mix. So too was New Balance and its hockey and lacrosse, subsidiary Warrior.
Unfortunately, I think Adidas bowing out of hockey after just 5 seasons was a bad look when it came to trying to strike a deal with another sportswear giant like Nike or New Balance. It stands to reason that they’d think there was something up if Adidas ditched the league after having just teamed up ahead of the 2017-18 season.
That could be true, but ask any hockey fan and they’ll tell you that while Adidas did a great job on a lot of jerseys, it never seemed like they fully embraced hockey. If you scroll through their app or website good luck finding much hockey.
I think that the league will want their new partner to be willing to fully lean into and embrace hockey. Y’know, unlike some of its other partners *cough*ESPN*cough*. Maybe Fanatics will be willing to do that.
They won’t want to mess up their first crack at throwing their logo on in-game jerseys. Maybe, despite fans’ concerns, this will work out.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle