Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Globe and Mail,
Graeme Roustan is an admitted hockey nut who has always been on the margins of the sport, first as a kid playing on the outdoor rinks of Montreal and then as an adult running a U.S. company that builds and equips indoor ice rinks.
He also believes what sporting goods giant Nike Inc. doesn’t: That the game he loves has plenty of room to grow and produce big profits for equipment suppliers.
Now, the 47-year-old Canadian expatriate has a chance to prove it after teaming up with private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. in a $200-million (U.S.) cash deal for Nike’s hockey subsidiary.
from the Vancouver Sun,
The sounds you heard out of the managers’ meetings in Florida this week were of frustration, of anger, and of determination to cut through all the horsedoodle the Goaltenders’ Benevolent Protective Association has been dispensing for years about how reducing the size of their padding is a safety issue.
The GMs have always known it’s not true. The only difference is that now, having turned the rulebook upside down in an effort to create more offence, they have been forced to confront the obvious: It’s the goalies, stupid.
“We’re tired of the conversation,” said Detroit’s Ken Holland, himself a former netminder.
“We’ve got to shrink the goalies. If we can’t get this right, then we have to sit down and look at the alternatives. And obviously bigger nets is one of the alternatives.”
No one wants bigger nets. No one wants the game’s history bastardized by tinkering with the dimensions of hockey’s most fundamental focal point. But there is no mistaking the threat.
from Eduardo Encina of the St. Petersburg Times,
Hockey players have a tough time giving up on helmets, shin guards and other equipment, but there’s something about the feel and comfort of worn shoulder pads that makes them special.
“I’ve had mine since I was 16,” said center Brad Richards, 27. “They’re going to stay with me. They’re not going anywhere. I don’t know if it’s weird, but I can change skates 100 times a year, gloves, all that stuff, but my shoulder pads, if I didn’t have those, I’d be lost forever.”
Much like someone having a worn-in baseball glove or a favorite pair of sneakers, some hockey players don’t want to let go of their favorite equipment, no matter how ratty it becomes.
Some players are the same way with other equipment.
TORONTO, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ - Therma Blade Inc. announced today that following preliminary testing of its heated skate blade prototypes by five NHL players, it will expand product testing to include some of the 50 NHL players and NHL teams requesting production models of the product.
Four NHL players who have been testing Thermablade prototypes to date will participate in an expanded testing program in which Therma Blade will make its latest production models available to them and to additional players and NHL teams that are on the company’s waiting list for full production models.
For a young player, the appeal for composite sticks, and frankly any piece of equipment, has a great deal to do with what their professional idols are using. Kids see the league’s most valuable player, Sidney Crosby, score his way in to the record books using a certain type of hockey stick and they want what he’s using.
The question is: Is a composite stick necessary for every player, or simply a fancy frill for those who can afford it?
The term itself might be somewhat deceiving for a first-time buyer. Composite is not in reference to the combination of the blade and shaft of the stick, which is a common misconception.
It’s actually in reference to the what he stick is made of in terms of materials.
from the Arizona Republic,
...Players on both teams endured the frustration of at least a dozen broken sticks, a situation Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky called “ridiculous.”
“I have no idea why we don’t go back to wooden sticks,” he said. “These sticks just break continuously. If I was a player, I would step on all those sticks out there. I wouldn’t let anybody use them.
“If a stick would ever cost me a goal in a hockey game, that would have been it. I would have never used that kind of stick ever again. We need to look at it from a hockey point of view, not just our team. From a hockey point of view, it’s ridiculous. I was teasing the guys on the bench - we got to go back to using wooden sticks. They said they don’t make them any more. That shows you how much I know.”
Coyotes equipment manager Stan Wilson said the composite sticks, composed mainly of carbon fiber, were stronger when they first came out.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
While Therma Blade received approvals for its blades from the NHL, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey months ago, the poor reviews from Draper and Lapointe have prompted the NHLPA to balk at signing off on the fledgling product.
And without the approval of the players’ union, the heated blades, which are attached to boots of existing skates, would no longer be able to be used in NHL games, which would be a key marketing tool for the Quebec company.
NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said the union has concerns that the blades don’t deliver as promised – especially considering their price tag. “Before we give our approval or endorsement to a hockey product that will increase the cost to the average family, we should take steps to ensure that this product indeed performs as advertised,” Kelly said.
From Ian Austen at the NY Times,
Thirteen years after acquiring Bauer, and making bold promises that it would transform the business of hockey, Nike has put its Nike Bauer unit up for sale, a rare bit of comeuppance for one of the world’s powerful brands.
Though Nike Bauer remains a market leader, many analysts predict that the company will find it hard to recover even half the $395 million it paid for Canstar Sports, Bauer’s Montreal-based parent, in December 1994.
“It was one of Phil Knight’s ideas,” said Brady Lemos, an analyst with Morningstar, referring to Nike’s chairman. “Perhaps they were too optimistic.”
more… looking at the history and details of Nike Bauer’s performance and what went wrong
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
Nike’s venerable hockey division, Bauer, is poised to be sold off to a non-sports company for the first time in the company’s long history….
As the Bauer auction winds to a close, speculation has percolated in recent weeks that rival sports apparel and equipment maker adidas may follow suit and put hockey division CCM on the block.
ReebokCCM has re-designed CCM’s logo, given the brand its own booth at a high-profile upcoming Las Vegas trade show, and signed hockey phenom John Tavares to an endorsement contract.
“adidas bought Reebok to enhance its pro-sports position in North America,” said Jim Rennie, who for years published a trade letter about the hockey industry. “Sadly, hockey is now a secondary pro sport in the U.S., and adidas has other priorities. Hockey doesn’t figure in its strategic vision. Hockey won’t help it catch up to Nike – hence they likely exit.”
more... And there are also rumours circulating that TPS Hockey, which has “offshored” almost everything of late, is going out of business…
This hot-and-cold argument has raged almost from the time composite sticks became popular, early in the 2002-03 season. It was very much a topic in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dressing room Friday after defenceman Pavel Kubina’s stick disintegrated as he leaned into a wide-open slapshot in Tampa on Thursday, which might have provided the visitors with a last-minute victory.
Instead, the Lightning broke away on an odd-man rush and Vincent Lecavalier slapped in the decisive tally with 41.6 seconds left in regulation time.
“Yeah, a broken stick probably cost us a game the other night,” forward Matt Stajan said.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org