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Adidas to become official NHL outfitter in 2017-18

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The NHL and adidas on Tuesday announced a seven-year partnership that will make adidas the official outfitter of on-ice uniforms and official supplier of licensed apparel and headwear for the League starting with the 2017-18 season.

Reebok, a brand owned by the adidas Group, is the NHL's current official outfitter.

In addition, the NHL, NHL Players' Association and adidas announced a partnership for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey that makes adidas the exclusive outfitter for authentic and replica jerseys for the eight-team tournament that will take place in Toronto from Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016.

"As important as the excitement for the season is, having a great partner like adidas is what we're all about," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Teaming up with adidas continues our strategy of aligning with major partners who not only share our vision for growing the game and the League, but also putting innovation at the forefront of what we do for our players and our fans.

"This is a big deal for us and we know it is for [adidas]."

Commissioner Bettman emphatically denied that the new partnership with adidas means advertising on NHL sweaters is coming in the near future.

"The fact of the matter is, and I've been fairly vocal on this over the last few years as the subject has come up, we are not currently considering putting advertising on NHL jerseys," Commissioner Bettman said. "There have been no discussions formally or informally with anybody about doing that."

With respect to the World Cup, Commissioner Bettman said there have been some discussions about advertising on jerseys, but nothing is imminent. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said if it happens it would be for experimentation purposes.

"It goes to the respect we have for the history and tradition of our game, the reverence that fans have for our sweaters and our game," Commissioner Bettman said. "Our sweaters, I think among all the sports, are iconic, which is why previously I've been quoted as saying we certainly won't be the first [to put advertising on jerseys], you'd probably have to drag me kicking and screaming, which would take a lot, a lot, a lot of money, and it's something we're not considering now. Whether or not we choose to, as Don said, experiment with the World Cup may be something else, but the view I just articulated is consistent overwhelmingly with how most owners feel."

Fehr said the players are particularly excited to be associated with adidas for the World Cup of Hockey.

"This is a new entrance for the NHL and NHLPA on the world's stage, if you will, and we wanted a world-class partner with us that is willing to grow with us as we continue to grow the game globally," Fehr said. "It's for that reason that the players are particularly pleased and particularly proud to have adidas on board for this event. It's going to be a great partnership and it's really going to set us off in the right direction for years to come."

Mark King, president of adidas Group North America, said the deal with the NHL allows adidas to partner with a major sports league to further its sports brand in North America. He said it also gives Reebok the opportunity to continue to strengthen its position as a fitness brand, which is in line with its business strategy.

Adidas recently signed Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, to a spokesperson contract. King said adidas is planning to add more prominent NHL players to its growing list of professional athletes who serve as spokespeople for the company.

King said signings could be announced within the next two weeks.

"One of the reasons, and there are many, that this is a big opportunity for us is the popularity of the sport not only in America, but in Canada," King said. "North America is a place where this sport is really growing in popularity. Whether it's digital or broadcast, it really gives us an opportunity with the adidas brand to tell sports fans in the largest market in the world that we're a part of this really great game and this really great sport."

King said joining forces with the NHL and NHLPA for the World Cup of Hockey was also of great importance to adidas because of its global initiatives.

"The adidas brand, almost more than any brand in sport, is global," King said. "Gary said one of the things he was really looking for in a partner was the ability to take the hockey message and the NHL message around the world. We're really pleased to help the NHL and the sport of hockey be exposed around the world."

The NHL is also intrigued by adidas' global outreach, which is in sync with Commissioner Bettman's stated goal of encouraging the growth of the game on a worldwide basis.

"Their strength in Europe, in markets like Russia, big hockey markets that are important to us, they can really help lead us to grow that global brand, global business potential that the commissioner has been talking about," NHL COO John Collins said.

Adidas will also be outfitting NHL dressing rooms with high-performance training footwear and apparel.

CCM, which like Reebok is a brand owned by the adidas Group, will remain the NHL's official on-ice equipment supplier for the duration of the League's seven-year contract with adidas.

In addition, adidas will work with the NHL to be present for fan interaction at major League events such as the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the NHL All-Star Game and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The adidas Group is very committed to hockey," King said.


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