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Fanatics to Take Over NHL Uni Contract in 2024

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Back in July, the NHL’s uniform outfitter, Adidas, announced that it would not renew its contract when it expired at the end of the 2023-24 season. In the eight months since then, we’ve seen a lot of speculation about who the new outfitter will be. And this morning we have our answer: The NHL has announced that the league’s new uniform supplier will be Fanatics. The new outfitting deal will run for 10 years — twice as long as Adidas’s five-year deal.

Let’s shift into FAQ mode:

So will this deal take effect next season?

No. Next season’s uniforms will still be supplied by Adidas. The Fanatics contract won’t begin until the season after that — the 2024-25 season.

Is that logo at the top of the page real?

No, it’s just something I whipped up for this article.

Did you see this move coming?

I had a hunch. Fanatics is consolidating so many things under its umbrella these days (including Topps and even betting), and of course they already handle the retail jerseys, so on some level it makes sense that they’d make the on-ice product as well.

Also, when I interviewed Kings equipment assistant Bob Halfacre last September, he called it:

Uni Watch: Any thoughts about who’ll take over for Adidas?

Halfacre: I don’t know what’s going to happen, honest to God. Obviously, Nike’s strong enough to do anything they want to do. It’s entirely possible that Fanatics grabs the whole thing and makes it a Fanatics brand. If I had to bet right now, I would bet Fanatics.

What sorts of changes can we expect?

None right away. Quoting from this ESPN article:

Fanatics also doesn’t plan on reinventing the jersey — at least initially. They’ll use the same factory based in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, that Adidas did to produce its jerseys. The specs for the jerseys will be exactly the same. While there will be differences in some of the fabrics and materials, “it will be almost indiscernible” to the jerseys currently in use, said Jennings.

The NHL indicated that the first significant changes to its on-ice jerseys could be in the 2026-27 season, when different fabric options and player safety innovations like protection against skate lacerations might be introduced.

That’s similar to the situation in MLB, where Nike is still using the old Majestic specs.

The NHL is the only major sports league in which the uniform manufacturer’s logo appears on the back of the jersey, instead of on the chest or the sleeves. Is there any indication that that will be changing with the new Fanatics deal?

My understanding is that the maker’s mark will remain on the back, and that it will just be Fanatics’s flag/F logo, not the wordmark.

Are there any other visual implications of this deal?

Adidas currently has its logo on the boards along the red line and blue lines, and Reebok did the same thing when they were the official outfitter, so I imagine Fanatics will take over those ad spots. But that’s just a supposition on my part — haven’t heard anything official.

Overall, do you think this is good news or bad news?

On the one hand, I’m glad Nike didn’t get the deal, because (a) I generally don’t like Nike, and (b) I wouldn’t want all of the Big Four pro leagues to have their uniforms controlled by the same company.

On the down side, having the on-ice operation run by what had been a retail behemoth further blurs the line between uniforms and merchandise, which is something I’m not happy about.

Ultimately, of course, it all comes down to design. What is Fanatics’s design sensibility? We don’t really know (or at least don’t know). But we’ll start finding out in 2024.


So that’s my initial take. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the days and weeks to come.



ITEM! Important Bacon Update

Look what showed up yesterday at Uni Watch HQ! My thanks to the folks at Hormel, who followed through on their promise to send this to me.

For now, it’s in the fridge. I’ll have more to say about it soon — stay tuned.



Can of the Day

This one’s a little scuffed up, but the design is so good! Love the bold typography.

• • • • •

Today is my birthday. I’ll have more to say about that in a separate post later this morning. — Paul

Comments (37)

    Wasn’t Fanatics supposed to take over the MLB unis at one point or at least one of the companies under their umbrella.

    I know Paul and many dunt care for the retail dude of things but because their umbrella is so big and they handle the online shops for NHL, MLB, NBA and many of the other pro sports as well as lids and other retail sites, it makes it harder to find things because once they are or of a size or style it’s basically gone all together

    Fanatics essentially *does* manufacture (but not design) MLB uniforms. They bought Majestic, and the old Majestic factory still makes the on-field product for Nike. When a team calls up a minor leaguer and needs a new jersey, they call Fanatics, not Nike.

    In the case of the Mets- the team calls up Stitches and they do the in season customization for jerseys of traded players and call-ups for standard issued jerseys because of turn around time. (Although I forget if Eric told me if they did the 9/11 jerseys a few years ago). Fanatics/Nike only provide the initial beginning of season jerseys.

    Although for the life of me- I don’t know how Stitches will work around the MLB new templates if rolled out.

    Every team has a local stitcher, not just the Mets. But Fanatics has streamlined the operation to the point that they now supply most of the in-season jerseys for most teams.

    Happy Birthday!! Take some of that bacon and spread some peanut butter on toast and you have a delicious birthday lunch! Enjoy your day.

    Like any new development, I will wait to see what, if any changes, will be made before raging against the machine. Needless to say, the turd is already in the punch bowl with ads regardless of manufacturer.

    Good news – Fanatics not really changing the on ice NHL jersey.
    Really bad news – Fanatics and their NHL retail items, especially replica jerseys. What can I say that already hasn’t been said about their quality or more accurately – lack thereof.

    Does “They’ll use the same factory based in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec” basically mean SP is making them? Whatever contract/sub-contract deal it is. Be nice, but unexpected, for them to just spell that out directly.

    Too bad SP won’t be doing the retail jerseys, and doing it to the quality of the jerseys branded SP.

    Almost certainly the shittiest apparel company in sports. And maybe the world?

    Happy Birthday Paul!

    Glad it isn’t Nike. Was hoping for CCM. I like how CCM deal with collar laces on jerseys these days. No teams tie them anymore so I like CCM’s take on it. The one negative thning about the adidas jersey is with the teams that have the collar laces. Teams might as well not have collar laces with the adidas jerseys because they are just useless laces that dangle in a space below the collar.

    Ugh. Fanatics produces a crap product. Cut corners at every opportunity. Quality is of no concern. Expect that to carry over to the on-ice product. There must have been a better option.

    Fanatics merch is surprisingly low quality so this will probably be a disaster.

    “On the one hand, I’m glad Nike didn’t get the deal, because (a) I generally don’t like Nike, and (b) I wouldn’t want all of the Big Four pro leagues to have their uniforms controlled by the same company.
    On the down side, having the on-ice operation run by what had been a retail behemoth further blurs the line between uniforms and merchandise, which is something I’m not happy about.”

    Sums up my feelings as well. My assumption would be fanatics isn’t going to make wild uniform changes that go against traditional design standards like Nike does, but what they will do is start outfitting the teams with lots of “mech-fashion” alternates, which would probably look similar to the reverse retro uniforms, basically color swapping existing designs. Given the choice between city connect type alternates and reverse retro type alternates, I’ll gladly take the latter.

    Classis tail wagging the dog.

    How can anyone guarantee that fan apparel company can make sweaters designed for athletes?

    Unless the quality, durability and utility of the garments are professional grade (CCM or Koho, for example) this could be a disaster.

    That tin reminds me of my favorite comic book cover, The Flash vol. 2 issue 18, where DC eschewed the normal Flash type logo in favor of simple sans-serif block capitals.


    As for Fanatics vs Nike, both are strongly retail-driven enterprises, so I don’t see an appreciable difference on that front. Fanatics manufacturing quality for the retail market has been poor to inconsistent, although Nike has a looooooong history of manufacturing shortcuttery and inconsistency too. Fanatics has so far exhibited less of a consistent desire to use team uniforms as a canvass to promote the maker’s brand and visual identity than Nike, so I am cautiously optimistic that NHL teams will look better with Fanatics than they would have with Nike.

    Oof. Fanatics replica jerseys are absolutely TERRIBLE compared to any of the other brands (Reebok, CCM, Starter, whoever) that came before. Previous replica jerseys were still high-quality looking products with fully embroidered front logos (everybody) and sleeve patches (pre-Reebok – they had single piece sublimated tackle twill patches). The ones Fanatics have made are just incredibly cheap looking.

    A couple of interesting things from the NHL’s press release :

    ”Brian Jennings, NHL senior executive vice president of marketing and chief branding officer (…) has seen the jerseys for the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers (…) and the 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic between the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken (…) He has been involved in the development of the jerseys for the 2024 Honda NHL All-Star Game.”

    Hopefully for us fans, Adidas goes out with a bang, in the best way possible.

    ”Feedback from fans has helped guide the design process of replica NHL jerseys, leading to innovations like a more tailored female jersey and foldable crests for easier storage.”

    A foldable crest sounds interesting, as someone who has a few jerseys, that’d be neat. That said, not sure they’ll execute that idea properly…

    ”Mack said replica jerseys have received a 4.5-star rating on a 5-star scale, on par with authentic products.”

    Somehow I doubt that…

    ”Mack said replica jerseys have received a 4.5-star rating on a 5-star scale, on par with authentic products.”

    Now if that was a (as in a total of one) 4.5/5 rating, I might believe it was a real rating.
    I could possible see a 4.5 star rating out of 10 – if at true clearance pricing. Also, the definition of “authentic” has been bastardized in hockey jerseys in recent times so who knows what they actually mean.

    As far as a foldable crest, the easiest (and likely cheapest) way to have that is having the ‘crest’ sublimated into the jersey.

    Let’s all hope they don’t go that way. Crests have been getting more and more detailed, we don’t want to lose that!

    The ever expanding Fanatics empire is somewhat overwhelming. The speed of the company’s growth makes me slightly uncomfortable. I feel like a corporate collapse sometime in the future is inevitable.

    Happy Birthday, Paul! I hope you have a terrific day.

    The Bad: It’s simply the unknown. We have no frame of reference for what Fanatics will do come 2026-27. Their retail stuff can be pretty poor quality. I bought a Fanatics replica once and went back the very next day to return it, and just spent more for the authentic because the replica was so bad.

    The Good: We have the same template, which is really nice, for another 3 seasons. Also, being retail, Fanatics may be more inclined to let the NHL take the lead when it’s time for the new template, which could make it the best possible version for hockey. Lastly, I do think Fanatics hockey stuff has been improving. I got a hoodie and a quarter zip for the Winter Classic this season and I was surprised at how nice both of them were. The Bruins heathered grey quarter zip with the Meth Bear logo on the chest and WC patch on the sleeve is probably the nicest hockey shirt I own.

    I’m kind of surprised, thought for sure Nike would complete the sweep, and I’m not thrilled but it’s not as big of a nightmare as I thought it’d be. I think it’d be worse if they were rushing out a new template season 1.

    So if Fanatics is sticking with the Adizero template, I guess that means we’re also stuck with the ugly Adizero “lay-flat” collars for another couple of years.

    I hope fanatics gets rid of ring around the collar that the Leafs and other team jerseys have.

    Fanatics was the company I least wanted to see get this contract. Based on the supbar quality of both the materials and design of their retail merch I do not have a good outlook for what they’ll bring to authentic game jerseys. The design of a lot of their retail merch always comes off as lazy and template-y, to me, and I’m worried we’ll get a bunch of very lazy formulaic jerseys that all look the same. I was really hoping an actual hockey company like CCM or Bauer might end up getting the nod.

    While I’m not excited about Fanatics either, I wonder if there would be a different consensus if Fanatics used the Majestic brand for the on ice and ‘authentic’ jerseys?

    A couple of links:

    A Greg Wyshynski Q&A on, including the note that we’ve seen the last of Reverse Retro.


    A column in The Athletic about Fanatics’ poor track record.


    Paul Lukas, 29 years ago today, you were born somewhere special….
    And just like a fine wine, you have aged well with wit and wisdom…
    Peace to you and yours

    Thinking of buying the $240 version of the Penguins jersey. It has the double tackle twill numbers. Can anybody tell me if this is the exact jersey worn on ice. Confused by all the names and Fanatics info.

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