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Reader Questions: Follow Up On Gear, Sponsorship and More



New Puck Daddy: Part two of joining a new team – fitting in with the guys. (Link to PD, posts around 2:00 EST.)


Throughout the week, I get a good number of personal emails from readers (always welcome) with follow up questions, and I make an effort to respond to each and every one.  Oftentimes, I let them sit in my inbox for awhile because I have to put up a post on Bourne’s Blog (or work on a column) and don’t have the time to get to them that day.

It occurs to me, the utter moron that I am, that this is why other sites do “mailbag” style posts, and I should just answer those questions, two-birds-with-one-stones this damn thing, and run them here.  Hopefully I answer some questions some of you had but didn’t ask, and maybe some you didn’t think to ask.

Today, however, I’ll just be answer the questions from one email, frankly because I responded to all the other ones this morning and it would be redundant to re-do that here.  Thus, without further ado, a new hopefully-recurring post on Bourne’s Blog: Reader Questions.  What a clever name.

From Reader “Max”:

How do sponsorships work? Obviously you have Crosby with Reebok, Kane with Bauer, etc., does that mean these guys get outfitted directly by the company or is it just up to them to pick the correct items from the team? Do players make their gear sponsorship selections based on quality of the product or for the money?

Well, I never played in the show obviously, but here’s a mix of what I’ve seen and what my understanding is:

Company reps come around the rink constantly from Bauer, Easton, RBK etc., display some gear, and let the guys check it out.

It’s always fun – pick up the new sticks, give ‘em a flex and so on.  If you’d like to try said product, and aren’t some one-day call-up, they’ll give you a stick or two to try out.  Keep in mind these guys get endless sticks, so there’s very little temptation to do what most rec leaguers are thinking now, which is get samples from every rep and stockpile them.  It can be more of a hassle than it’s worth to cut and tape and test new sticks, and most guys are happy with what they use, and what they know.

#87 - get well soon.

So when a player makes the change, the team orders the gear from that company.  NHL teams, AHL teams, they all still have to buy those sticks, albeit at a discounted cost.

So most NHL players aren’t “sponsored” per se, as much as they just use the exact gear they like and don’t think about anything else (ie. price).

Now, there are exceptions.  Big name guys like Sidney Crosby occasionally get sponsored – as we all know (and we KNOW, Rebook), Crosby is with Reebok.  But the dirty little secret here, is that that doesn’t mean he uses RBK’s stuff.  A couple years back I know (or rather, I frequently heard from other players) he was wearing another companies boot, but had it customed to look like the RBK skate that had the pump on it, so Reebok could churn out a million posters with pictures of Sid wearing the new wheels.  Which he wasn’t.

So the reps come around and outfit the guys, the team pays for said gear at a low price, and everyone is happy.  There’s no way Sid would limit himself to one company if he thought another company’s product was better – there’s no amount of money, whatever it is that they pay him, that would be worth it to a guy that competitive.

How do guys like Teemu Selanne (with his old Jofa helmet) or Osgood (with his ’80s goalie helmet) get fitted when they go to a new team? Does JOFA have stockpiles of those old lids, or would Teemu have to paint his old one when he gets to a new team?

Yeah, I’m sure Teemu has a couple of those buckets that they just re-paint.  Otherwise like you said, I’m sure JOFA can always track another one or ten down for a star like him (actually, JOFA no longer exists.  I think RBK bought them, actually).  Unique pieces of equipment are your own deal – but chances are something better has been made and you should move on.

Talk a little bit about manufacturers – Easton seems to be on top as far as stick use numbers go, but Bauer seems to have a majority of the skate market. What do you make of the fluctuations of brand choices? Are NHLers just fad followers or are there great advances in technology year to year and between manufacturers?

“Great” advances might be a bit much, but there are advances every year.  And if there isn’t, a company will just attach some new gimmick to the product and call it improved.  It’s a pump!  Hey look, now there’s holes in the shaft!

Full disclosure: I may be doing some work for Easton soon. Still, my comments to the left about their gear are sincere.

Anyway, most NHLers aren’t fad followers in the slightest bit (some of the young kids might be, but not for long).  I think the market fluctuations validate the quality of a product.  Bauer makes fantastic skates.  Easton makes fantastic sticks (skates too, I hear).  And every so often a company comes along and makes a push to be legit.

Warrior is a great example of a company that came in and really shook up the standard brands, because their product (sticks) were terrific, and a good number of players made the switch and used them.  Some players have some measure of brand loyalty – I know my dad used Bauer skates, so I did, and thus I never even looked at other brands - but for the most part, guys want whatever’s best.

(*Tangent alert*)

Warrior did themselves an injustice by coming out with ridiculous marketing – they went with crazy colours and gave the sticks ridiculous names that I don’t even care to remember like “Mofo” and “Badass.”  They missed the point – hockey fans and players are all about nostalgia and the inherent, childish goodness of the game (as much as we also love the violence).  At it’s most base elements, the game is pure.  It’s why we love campaigns like Bauer’s “What Are You Going To Write?” series that I still love so much (in reference to the clean sheet of ice).

Not many players want to stand out (nobody’s bigger than the game, we, we, we!), and holding a stick like that is embarrassing – if they had gone understated, way more players would use them, because as I said, they’re sick sticks in terms of performance.  They’re probably changing to a more conservative look, but for me, I’m still turned off.  I’m not trying to be Terrell Owens out there standing on the star in Dallas, I’m trying to bury a one-bomb and high five my linemates.

 (*Tangent over*)

Anyway, gear gets better every year, and you can see which companies are the ones making the strides by who’s using what in the NHL.

Thanks for your questions, and hope everyone found that interesting!

(Oo, and as a PS-slash-plug, that Synergy EQ50 I got from Easton awhile back: still hasn’t broken, I use it once a week and take plenty of clappers with it.  Great stick.)


26 Responses to “Reader Questions: Follow Up On Gear, Sponsorship and More”
  1. VagabondJim says:

    ” I’m not trying to be Terrell Owens out there standing on the star in Dallas, ”

    No, but I recall there was a moment when you tried to be T.O. with a Sharpie….

  2. Kyle says:

    agreed. Easton makes the best sticks. Most defensemen in the NHL use the S19. Its a sick stick

  3. Me says:

    Good stuff, thanks. I understand the Warrior point. To me, their ads seemed to want to appeal to 13 year-olds. Maybe their marketing guys are former cigarette marketing guys, “hook-em when they’re young”. They’ve alienated the adult consumers, but that might not matter as those 13 year-olds grow up and keep using the Warrior products…

  4. andy says:

    im a total gear whore. sticks and gloves are my main addictions, but i own more elbow pads than i need, several pairs of pants, etc…

    your comment on using bauer skates because your dad did is interesting and maybe illustrates just how conservative hockey culture is. i think we can also see that in just how long a beer leaguer can hold on to a pair of shins or elbows…

    i dont know why this conservativeism extends to gear so much though. the warrior thing, i get. its flashy and has dumb names. i resisted for a while too, but the sticks really are excellent.

    speaking of easton, i fully endorse easton skates. went from tacks to grafs, now im in s17s. best skates ive ever worn. people have actually commented on my skating, and not how slow ive gotten!

  5. jtbourne says:

    VagabondJim – Haha…. in OT against Fairbanks, you have to grant me my moment.

  6. mlem says:

    So a few years ago when Ovechkin was using the One95 what do you think CCM’s reaction to that was?

    I had a bad experience with Easton. I had 3 easton sticks break on me in a period of 2 months. I generally play roller, but I mix in ice when I can afford it. 1 of those sticks was slashed in half, so I give that one a pass, but the other two broke while shooting a roller puck. One in half and the other a little bit up the blade. After that I invested in a Bauer One95 and got a Warrior Dolomite, which btw is relatively not-flashy when it comes to warrior, for christmas a few years back and they are both still in one piece and in pretty good condition.

  7. Cory says:

    Another great post. I know I emailed you a while back looking for a post about diets. Any chance we’ll see something like that here or on PD?

  8. Matt says:

    I also got an EQ 50. Play 3 nights a week around the valley and it lasted my 3 weeks (hooray 30 day warranty).

    Phenominal stick, when not broken.

  9. Foxy says:

    I picked up 2 Reebok 7k’s, the old Sickick II make, and they’re the best sticks, both durability and performance wise. Especially for the price(now $99 a piece on HockeyMonkey), they’re a great buy for anyone that plays at both a competitive or recreational/beer league level.

  10. Zachary says:

    Kyle you do know probably half the twigs players use in the show aren’t what you think they are. Most of them are repaints. A good number if not 90% of S19s you see are actually SE16s.

  11. Mark says:

    I always wonder what it would be like to have access to the candy store/equipment room. Somehow I’d imagine that I’d still be wearing my old Cooper shoulders and whatnot. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

    RE: Selanne’s Jofa

    I think that RBK actually still produce that helmet for Europe as a bandy helmet. It’s the 5k or 3k or something like that.

    RE: Warrior tangent

    Their marketing is aimed at the highschool crowd, and I’d imagine that they figure that if they get kids into their stuff they’ll get lifetime customers due to the way that players often tend to be reasonably brand-loyal. The 13 year olds that I coach all think that their ridiculous Warrior sticks are the coolest thing in the universe.

  12. Richie says:

    Maybe’s its nostalgia but newest gear isn’t always best gear. (Full disclosure -I’m a goalie & play roller). Generally yeah, like the guy that I play with who suddenly started bombing it when he got a CCM U+ stick but I still miss my old Easton F5′s on the occasion that I play out cause the various Misson & Bauer skates I’ve used have all been some kind of torture compared to the smooth comfort those Eastons gave. I don’t think Easton even make a roller boot anymore and if they did they wouldn’t allow it ship outside North America….this makes me sad.

    On a side note, the Warrior goalie gear looks pretty good (Roloson being the only NHLer using them I know of). Still gave them stupid names like Swagger etc though…..

  13. paul says:

    Warrior (actually New Balance, they own Warrior), bought a hockey company called Innovative. Federov and a bunch of others used to use their sticks.

    Warrior has basically taken the Innovative technology and slapped Warrior graphics and dumb names on them.

    Inno made great sticks but never had the resources/market share of an Easton until Warrior gobbled them up.

  14. Chris says:

    Justin, you sound like a miserable idiot. Great, you played NCAA hockey and had a ‘tryout’ with the Islanders. Bottom line – you are a nobody. The fact you are talking about what gear Sid may or may not be using is just bad form because it is complete bullshit, and a total lie. And I love your rant about Warrior’s ‘fashion’. Question, how long did it take you to gel your hair this morning, pretty boy? Oh the irony of you dissing someone else’s fashion. I regret the 3 minutes of my life I’ll never get back from reading this horseshit – and blatant lie – of a column.

  15. jtbourne says:

    Chris – thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your input, and value you as a fan of the blog. I, as well as my community of readers (I’m assuming), look forward to your next insightful comment. Thanks, JB :)

  16. obsolete says:

    Chris’ letter should go in some sort of “Angry Letters Hall of Fame”.
    Bottom line- he’s mad because he can’t afford good hair gel anymore.

  17. - M says:

    So when did Crosby wear another company’s boot dressed up as a RBK?

  18. jtbourne says:

    obsolete – Ha, I think it’s my current favourite. I’ve had a couple that contained a bit more hate, but that one takes the cake just for the pure awesomeness of it all.

  19. Deirdre says:

    Justin, have you been inviting PD commenter’s over here? Silly man.

    I’m a stickler for my old gear too. My shoulder pads are easily 15 years out of date but I love how much mobility I have in them! The newer gear got *so* bulky. That may change now with the new rules coming in, but if I love what I’ve got…

  20. hattrickery says:

    I still have a Bauer “What are you going to write?” print ad taped to my closet door in my childhood bedroom. :D

  21. Cory says:

    I just wish Chris would have had some more bad spelling or grammar. Icing on the cake for good hate mail (imho).

  22. Richie says:

    Hey Chris, the only blatant lie is that it only took you 3 minutes to read this article.

  23. shayne says:

    This article was another example of everything you read on the internet, is not true!!

  24. jtbourne says:

    ….Wait, what? Shayne, are you claiming I made that up? Man, now that’s two people who think the gear sponsorships are bogus. What a bizarre lie that would be for me to run with….


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by , Justin. Justin said: Some readers had follow-up questions about my PD post on gear. I spent another 1,000 words on it at Bourne's Blog today: [...]

  2. [...] few weeks ago I wrote about stick sponsorships with players, using the extent of my knowledge on the topic, which was simply experience.  [...]

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