Back in July, the NHL’s uniform outfitter, Adidas, announced that it would not renew its contract when it expired at the end of the 2023-24 season. In the eight months since then, we’ve seen a lot of speculation about who the new outfitter will be. And this morning we have our answer: The NHL has announced that the league’s new uniform supplier will be Fanatics. The new outfitting deal will run for 10 years — twice as long as Adidas’s five-year deal.
Let’s shift into FAQ mode:
So will this deal take effect next season?
No. Next season’s uniforms will still be supplied by Adidas. The Fanatics contract won’t begin until the season after that — the 2024-25 season.
Is that logo at the top of the page real?
No, it’s just something I whipped up for this article.
Did you see this move coming?
I had a hunch. Fanatics is consolidating so many things under its umbrella these days (including Topps and even betting), and of course they already handle the retail jerseys, so on some level it makes sense that they’d make the on-ice product as well.
Also, when I interviewed Kings equipment assistant Bob Halfacre last September, he called it:
Uni Watch: Any thoughts about who’ll take over for Adidas?
Halfacre: I don’t know what’s going to happen, honest to God. Obviously, Nike’s strong enough to do anything they want to do. It’s entirely possible that Fanatics grabs the whole thing and makes it a Fanatics brand. If I had to bet right now, I would bet Fanatics.
What sorts of changes can we expect?
None right away. Quoting from this ESPN article:
Fanatics also doesn’t plan on reinventing the jersey — at least initially. They’ll use the same factory based in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, that Adidas did to produce its jerseys. The specs for the jerseys will be exactly the same. While there will be differences in some of the fabrics and materials, “it will be almost indiscernible” to the jerseys currently in use, said Jennings.
The NHL indicated that the first significant changes to its on-ice jerseys could be in the 2026-27 season, when different fabric options and player safety innovations like protection against skate lacerations might be introduced.
That’s similar to the situation in MLB, where Nike is still using the old Majestic specs.
The NHL is the only major sports league in which the uniform manufacturer’s logo appears on the back of the jersey, instead of on the chest or the sleeves. Is there any indication that that will be changing with the new Fanatics deal?
My understanding is that the maker’s mark will remain on the back, and that it will just be Fanatics’s flag/F logo, not the wordmark.
Are there any other visual implications of this deal?
Adidas currently has its logo on the boards along the red line and blue lines, and Reebok did the same thing when they were the official outfitter, so I imagine Fanatics will take over those ad spots. But that’s just a supposition on my part — haven’t heard anything official.
Overall, do you think this is good news or bad news?
On the one hand, I’m glad Nike didn’t get the deal, because (a) I generally don’t like Nike, and (b) I wouldn’t want all of the Big Four pro leagues to have their uniforms controlled by the same company.
On the down side, having the on-ice operation run by what had been a retail behemoth further blurs the line between uniforms and merchandise, which is something I’m not happy about.
Ultimately, of course, it all comes down to design. What is Fanatics’s design sensibility? We don’t really know (or at least I don’t know). But we’ll start finding out in 2024.
So that’s my initial take. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the days and weeks to come.