Adidas will take over production of NHL uniforms beginning in the 2017-’18 season, and it’s unclear just how many changes will come as a result.
The NHL announced a seven-year deal with Adidas to be its on-ice uniform supplier and also to serve as outfitter for next year’s World Cup of Hockey. Commissioner Gary Bettman repeatedly shot down speculation about the announcement opening the door for advertisements on jerseys and said he didn’t think they’d go through a major redesign.
"Reinventing isn’t something we’re about to embark upon," Bettman said on a conference call. "If there are better fabrics that are more comfortable and help performance, that’s one thing. But we happen to like our jerseys a lot, and we think our fans do as well. …
"We’re not looking to revamp our jerseys."
Adidas owns Reebok, which was part of the last major NHL jersey redesign a decade ago. Adidas is famous for its three-stripe design which some fans have feared will be incorporated into all designs.
NHL chief operating officer John Collins said no final decisions had been made on those kinds of issues.
"We have the flexibility of working closely with Adidas to figure out what represents the brand best and what represents the new design of the uniforms," Collins said.
Adidas produces college football uniforms for the University of Miami and Arizona State. Adidas Group North America president Mark King said improvements there have included adding lighter "TechFit" technology to make jerseys lighter, something that could be the future in hockey.
"It’s a dramatic shift from where the uniform is today, but that would be probably the first thing we would look at," King said. "That would be the logical place to go, but it completely changes the look of the hockey player."
Advertisements would certainly change the look, and it’s something that could be coming for the World Cup. Bettman said the league has not had any discussions about advertisements on NHL team jerseys.
However, there have been some discussions between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association about ads on World Cup jerseys.
"What the World Cup does, as well as other international events when we get to the point of getting those accomplished, is to give us among other things, an opportunity for some experimentation — an opportunity, if we want to, to try different things," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.
Adidas recently announced a sponsorship deal with No. 1 pick Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. On Monday, the CFL announced Adidas would be taking over from Reebok as the league’s official outfitter starting next season.
King said hockey’s popularity in North America made this an attractive option for Adidas.
"It is the sport in Canada, (in) which we have a massive business," he said. "You couldn’t imagine a sports brand in Canada without hockey as part of it. And it’s growing at every level here in the States. This was really an important deal for us."