At 6:45 am ET on Tuesday, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced a new 10-year partnership with manufacturer Fanatics for its on-ice jerseys.
It took until about 6:46 am for the first negative reaction to come in for the deal, which kicks off with the 2024-25 season.
The early morning announcement caught NHL fans off guard for a number of reasons:
- One: who announces news before sunrise? Was the NHL aware of the negative reaction coming its way?
- Two: Fanatics jerseys have a reputation for being lower quality than its competitors. Will the quality be upped with the new deal, or remain the same?
- Three: Fanatics has never manufactured any large-scale professional sports uniforms.
Fanatics first got involved in the NHL apparel game in 2017-18, when Adidas took over from Reebok as the official on-ice jersey manufacturer for the league.
Fanatics offers both replica jerseys as well as other apparel, with its price point currently at CND$194.99 for a replica jersey with a player’s name on it. The Adidas version, which is the same as the players wear on the ice, goes for CND$249.99.
“This expansion of our partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of our shared commitment to innovation, performance and serving our players and fans,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release. “Our players and fans should look forward to what Fanatics will bring to the best uniforms in all of sports.”
Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce, says the jerseys won’t have radical changes.
“Fanatics will continue to use the same factory, the same specs for players and even some of the same fabrics, at least at first,” the league wrote in the release.
Here’s what some of the reaction looks like (spoiler: it’s not great).
Thanks, this will save me a lot of money. Now I don’t have to buy a jersey for the next decade. https://t.co/irb6zMkbXe
— Pat Makes Art (@patmakesart) March 21, 2023
Nice to know I won’t have to spend money on hockey jerseys anytime soon. Way to listen to your fans (again), bozos. https://t.co/cPu4xOS3Hq
— Stache (@StacheEsq) March 21, 2023
I’m not kidding, knockoff jerseys from sites like DHGate are higher quality than Fanatics. This is such a pathetic money grab that will backfire because literally everyone hates Fanatics and their cheaply made but still somehow $250 jerseys https://t.co/iEzld3iAx6
— Lamb Gardner🪲🐑🪲 (@TheLambBug) March 21, 2023
This has to be blackmail https://t.co/eT16Ez88TD
— Tony X (@soIoucity) March 21, 2023
This is terrible news. Absolute worst case scenario for the sport as well as the hobby of jersey collecting https://t.co/okcGUmxCtq
— Dan the Flyera Fan (@DanTheFlyeraFan) March 21, 2023
— nick (@nickfilaa) March 21, 2023
Just read the responses to this announcement. What a disappointment. Get ready for a drought in jersey sales.
— BIHRLE (@BIHRLE) March 21, 2023
guys pls be careful, i left my fanatics jersey in my car and someone broke in and left FOUR MORE in there!!! pic.twitter.com/HcK0bx2ESO
— xavier (@dicnowder) March 21, 2023
— The Grind Line Podcast™ (@GrindLinePod) March 21, 2023
One fan even jokingly shared their excitement, following up with a series of Fanatics merchandise with various errors.
I’m so excited! pic.twitter.com/h4m0ZGE0M6
— Jay Money (@insiderJmoney) March 21, 2023
We challenge you to find one person not paid by the league or Fanatics that is genuinely excited about this deal. Best of luck!