Adidas, the company probably best known for soccer kits and cleats, has landed a huge deal with the NHL for uniforms starting in 2017-2018, according to TSN. Is it a massive shift for the NHL? Probably not, as Adidas owns Reebok, but it will more than likely lead to some re-designed jerseys coupled with a cash infusion for the league.
For Adidas, the NHL deal is a big, if curious, win. The company beat out rivals Under Armour and Bauer Hockey for the NHL jersey contract, three people familiar with the matter told TSN. The NHL’s deal with Reebok pays the league about $35 million per season, a source said. The new deal with Adidas will see the rights fee double, the source said.
Both the NHL and Adidas declined to comment. A source said the agreement would be formally announced in mid-September. It's unclear whether the NHL will receive a cut of revenue from jersey sales or if it's a straight rights-fee arrangement.
Adidas recently let its uniform deal slide with the NBA, and Reebok lost its deal with the NHL in favor of Nike. The TSN reports that Adidas beat out both Under Armour and Bauer for the rights are a huge coup for the company, which will more than likely push for their three-stripe branding on NHL jerseys. Whether that will go past the logo just under the back of the neckline remains to be seen.
Jersey re-designs will probably happen, though it will be up to the individual teams if they want the move to be drastic or not. It will probably mean the loss of apron strings on the few jerseys that still incorporate them (looking at you, Avalanche). Troublingly enough, it could mean the introduction of corporate ads on jerseys.
During a meeting of NHL team presidents in New York last year, league officials estimated they might raise $4 million per team – or $120 million annually – by allowing corporate sponsors to put their logos front and centre on jerseys.
"If you’re already deciding on a major NHL jersey overhaul, maybe with Adidas striping on the jerseys, then it seems like it would be a good time to introduce the ads, if you plan to do it anyway," a league source told TSN.
That's a lot of cash. Good to see that the integrity of the game won't come cheap.
I've never been a fan of the Reebok jerseys - the only ones that I own are a couple of Thrashers practice jerseys that I got cheap at an equipment sale. They're light and feel more like shirts than sweaters. Adidas probably won't return to the CCM style jerseys, which is probably something the players appreciate. The shift to advertising, if it does happen, is something that probably only the league's coffers will love.