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Report: Adidas Exiting NHL Uni Deal After 2023-24

My former ESPN colleague Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski is reporting that the NHL’s uniform outfitter, Adidas, will not seek to renew its contract with the league after it expires at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. That means the NHL will have two more seasons under the Adidas umbrella.

Adidas took over the NHL’s uniform deal from Reebok in 2017. (I attended the unveiling in Las Vegas.) The company’s Reverse Retro program, which was rolled out in 2021, was fairly popular with fans and is set to be revived at some point in the upcoming season.

Per Wyshynski’s story, the league has notified other outfitters that the league’s uniform contract will be soon be available. It remains to be seen which companies might be interested.

The NHL is the only one of the “Big Four” legacy pro leagues not currently outfitted by Nike, which makes the uniforms for the NFL (since 2012), the NBA (since 2017), and MLB (since 2020). If Nike pursues and lands the NHL deal, it would essentially give them a monopoly on the legacy leagues. (Adidas does outfit MLS, however.)

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Comments (48)

    be smart. The MLS needs to let teams have their own kit suppliers like they do in Premier League

    I can’t reply directly to Robert but there are a few major issues with the MLS-wide deal.
    Firstly, MLS franchises generally don’t sell enough jerseys to get serious attention from Adidas individually. Adidas has several tiers of clubs (depending on sales), MLS teams wear jerseys equivalent to the quality that you can buy retail for Arsenal or Man Utd. And the retail jersey sold at the lower pricepoint don’t even resemble the ones the teams wear – the unique features on collars and cuffs are missing.
    MLS forces teams to have a white secondary jersey, this combined with the point about means clubs get another teams; old jersey in white with a made up story. Fans don’t buy them which make point 1 worse.
    Most American soccer fans also watch European football where the jersey culture is richer. The dullness of the American jersey palate leads to a reinforcement that the MLS is a C-tier league not a serious competitor to them. It’s a series of franchises, not unique clubs.
    If clubs could negotiate their own deal the larger ones like Atlanta would still field offers from Adidas and Nike and be happy. NYCFC would go under the City Group supplier deal and be happy. Mid-level clubs like New England might attract a mid-tier supplier like Kappa or Castore but would be happier getting a unique design. Clubs that sell fewer jerseys would probably be unhappier.

    Since Nike is already a player in some of the developmental leagues, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them land the NHL. Which, in my opinion, is too bad. I’ve always held out hope that CCM would get back into the mix. Although, I’m not entirely sure what happened with the CCM deal back in the early 2000s or if they still manufacture jerseys.

    I’d love to to see CCM back too and the funny thing it’s honestly not as unfathomable as it may seem. CCM is the outfitter for the AHL and both sides just signed a 5 year extension of their contract last year. So I guess ironically it’s probably not a reach to assume they along with Nike will probably be 2 of the main horses in this race. Go figure

    CCM also supplies the 3 major junior leagues. CCM is the only way to go in my opinion. We would get honest to goodness hockey unis and avoid the potential crap we are all scared Nike may drop upon us.

    Whoever takes over, I just hope they switch back to teams wearing white at home, as God intended.

    On a side note, I’d also love to see both New Era and Mitchell & Ness get the NHL license back.

    Unfortunately that’s not an Adidas’s issue; it’s Gary Bettman “Buttman” and his desires to be different from the other leagues.

    At this point, wearing white at home would be different from other leagues. Most NFL teams don’t wear white at home, some MLB teams wear their softball jerseys at home a lot, and the the NBA is all over the place anymore.

    Why should what other sports do have any bearing on what the NHL does? Completely different uniform histories, rituals, protocols, etc.

    White at home is objectively more interesting because every team coming in looks different. Color at home makes every home game, X color against white. every game looks the same at a glance.

    M&N recently announced that they have re-acquired their NHL license so you can expect to see NHL items from them in 2023.

    Except it’s not the original Mitchell and Ness as founded by Mr. Peter Capolino. I believe it’s now owned by a hedge fund and they don’t have the same commitment/incentive to the quality standards that Mr. Capolino set.

    Still, it isn’t Nike and that’s a good thing.

    I think this is a sleeper. Bauer for the jerseys and Lululemon for the gear. Lululemon is a Canadian company and has a big deal with the Canadian Olympic Committee and is obviously a huge fashion retailer. They’re also making a huge push into men’s athleisure and having NHL branded items would drive men’s traffic to their stores and websites.

    I think it’s a brilliant fit, the new athleisure arm and Bauer the tried and true hockey brand.

    Would anyone else love to see Reebok make a return? In terms of the merchandise, I personally think they did a much better job by providing a more affordable product. I always preferred the materials used by Reebok as opposed to the perforated shoulder yolks on the Adidas jerseys.

    Interesting that it’s Adidas choosing not to renew, I wonder if the NHL putting Fanatics in the drivers seat for so many retail items made it less lucrative for Adidas as a partner. I remember with Reebok they also did hats and shirts (and of decent quality, unlike a lot of the Fanatics stuff I’ve seen).

    For those of us who don’t like Nike products, this pro-sports monopoly would make a bad thing worse. Some of us don’t enjoy the way Nike has pissed on tradition and given almost every team a black set, a gray/charcoal/anthracite set, uniforms listed with airport and area codes, and sets in virtually every other variety in the Crayola box of 64, instead of their traditional colors. We’ve seen it in the NCAA, the NBA, MLB, and the NFL.

    A monopoly in any field is cause for concern. It eliminates competition and any incentive to improve. And in this particular case, it means derivative versions of the same crap Nike has foisted on us in other sports. Let CCM have it back. Competition is good. What use is marketing when there’s only one entity in the market?

    Not sure you can blame the supplier for uniforms that the organizations have to sign off on, the league has to allow and fans have to purchase.

    I would watch out for brands like Under Armour, New Era, and Champion to get in the game here. Nike does not have a good relationship with the NHL Commish, plus the other brands are looking to take the leap in this market.

    I think you’re onto something here. Especially if one of those brands strikes an agreement with CCM to continue to make the on ice sweaters. Nike is already in the hip pocket of the IIHF, and Gary (and north american hockey fans, really) and the IIHF don’t see eye to eye on much.

    100% agree. I have a very strong feeling it will be Under Armor. They have a very strong relationship with many in the hockey world including multiple college contracts and the cost of the NHL license will be lower than any of the other big 4. I can definitely see this going to UA.

    Didn’t Nike do NHL jerseys before I vaguely remember Detroit and Anaheim having Nike jerseys in the late 90’s and early 2000’s but maybe it was only select teams. I know Starter and CCM used to make jerseys back then too.

    Yep. Detroit, Anaheim, Philadelphia, and Chicago in 1996-97, adding San Jose and Toronto in 1997-98. At the time, Nike owned Bauer as a subsidiary, and Bauer also supplied the IHL, so the Nike uniforms were basically Bauer construction. Nashville wore Bauer-branded unis their first season, Nike/Bauer bowed out after the 1998-99 season, though, with Anaheim and Chicago going to Pro Player for a year, while the other five teams went to CCM.

    Yeah. A couple years in the mid-90s. I don’t remember exactly, but it was somewhere between when I got my first hockey jersey (a CCM) in 1992 and when I started college in 1998, because I had a Nike Leafs jersey and it was already out of date.

    My concern with Nike taking over is less about their monopoly and has more to do with the “what have you done for us lately”

    They supply all the IIHF uniforms and I’d say they’re uniformly (no pun intended) disliked.

    The one plus side is that the changeover is going to happen so quickly that I can’t imagine any manufacturer having enough time to dramatically change uniform design elements.

    Anyway, farewell Adidas and good riddance to the stupid dimpled shoulder yokes.

    So that makes two big contracts expiring for the NHL in the near future with Gatorade earlier this year and now Adidas.

    I really don’t like the IIHF jerseys by Nike. So, I would not be a fan if they got the NHL contract.

    Here’s one brand that I haven’t seen mentioned yet — Warrior, which is owned by New Balance

    Although NB isn’t currently in hockey, a lot of NHL players already use Warrior gear — especially pants, sticks and gloves. They are very big in the Boston area and they are the advertiser on the Bruins practice rink. Plus the Bruins owner is on the NHL Board of Governors and supposedly one of the key owners in Bettman’s ear.

    To whoever mentioned Reebok, they are owned by Adidas and got out of team sports when Adidas assumed the NHL contract. So unless something has really changed, that’s not happening.

    And yes, those Nike USA Olympic hockey jerseys this year were an abomination. The other IIHF jerseys aren’t far behind.

    So I think in no particular order, Nike, CCM and Warrior/NB are the top 3 right now.

    Would any of the teams take this as an opportunity to request that they be allowed to sign their own kit supplier deals? Ever since I started watching US pro sports on the 2000s the big 4 and MLS have had league-wide deals, but would anyone look across to Europe where individual team deals are the norm? Would possibly alleviate the feeling that your team is being used as a marketing tool/test subject for a maufacturer if there were a handful of companies involved who had a small pool of teams to focus on, rather than 30-odd, all who need an “Icon/Statement/City Connect” outfit.

    Theoretically, either Bauer or CCM might go for it. Both were purchased by the big boys (Bauer by Nike, CCM/The Hockey Company by Reebok, who was then bought by adidas), and both were then spun off to new ownership when the market apparently wasn’t as lucrative as they’d hoped. To be honest, I had to check just now to find out if adidas still owned THC (they do not).

    Ironically, the last time I remember any of the NHL teams that struck out on their own with their sweaters, it was Nike that supplied them to the Gretzky-era Oilers. Everyone else was wearing CCM/Maska with the classic CCM logo in team colors on the tail.

    Puma anybody? No, seriously, this will be Nike and Nike alone and horrors will follow like NHL City Connect uniforms that are eyesores. Expect the sweaters to tear very easily as well, as Nike is the progenitor of lightweight uniforms (in other words: saving costs by using less materials).

    I hope this results in New Era getting back the rights to make NHL hats. Fanatics and Adidas hats are awful. Nothing like a New Era hat.

    Only issue with Nike is I can’t stand their obsession with the Black vs White contrast they do with uniforms. Bring back the color vs color.

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