After news surfaced over the summer that it would not renew its contract with Adidas, the National Hockey League has turned to a longtime retail partner to supply its on-ice uniforms.
The NHL announced on Tuesday, March 21, that it had signed a 10-year contract with sports apparel company Fanatics, which will see the latter “become the League’s authentic outfitter of on-ice uniforms and supplier of authentic jerseys at retail” starting in the 2024-25 season, the league said in a press release.
The deal marks the next stage of the NHL’s partnership with Fanatics, which over the past two decades has evolved to include NHL e-commerce and retail operations, fan apparel and headwear, replica jerseys, licensed memorabilia, performance and training products, on-ice Stanley Cup® Champions apparel and headwear, and now official on-ice uniforms and authentic jerseys sold at retail.
According to the New York Times, as part of the deal, Fanatics’ “F” logo will appear on backs of NHL player jerseys for the first time. Fanatics already manufactures replica NHL jerseys, along with training gear for players and coaches. Fanatics has been making Nike-branded Major League Baseball player jerseys in 2017 when it acquired Majestic, and also produces Nike-branded “authentic” National Football League jerseys.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports that Fanatics will use the same factory in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, that Adidas used to produce NHL jerseys, and that the jersey specifications will remain the same. Some fabrics and materials may be different, but NHL executive vice president of marketing Brian Jennings told Wyshynski that “it will be almost indiscernible” to the current jerseys.
Wyshynski also reports that major jersey changes or redesigns likely wouldn’t happen until the 2026-27 season, “when different fabric options and player safety innovations like protection against skate lacerations might be introduced.”
“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 the league’s press release. “Fanatics is a sports industry market leader and with its proven track-record in e-commerce and retail operations, licensed fan merchandise and performance gear — including the popular NHL replica jerseys and Authentic Pro performance and training products — our players and fans should look forward to what Fanatics will bring to the best uniforms in all of sports.”
“This is a seminal moment in the history of Fanatics, and a testament to the hands-on, collaborative relationship with the NHL that we’ve built over the years,” added Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. “In addition to our tireless commitment to super serving sports fans around the world, Fanatics has equipped athletes, coaches and team staffs with performance products across many sports for years. Everything we do as a company pushes the boundaries to create more highly engaged experiences and revolutionary products for fans, athletes, and partners, and I can’t wait to see our brand on official on-ice uniforms for the first time.”
Fanatics started working with the NHL to sell licensed merchandise to fans in 2008, and began making replica jerseys in 2017. Its sales of NHL merchandise have grown from $10 million a year to $150 million a year since 2008, according to the New York Times. Overall, Fanatics expects to sell $6 billion worth of merchandise across a wide range of sports this year, including under its memorabilia and collectibles division and its recently acquired Mitchell & Ness vintage apparel brand.
Adidas has been the NHL’s supplier of on-ice uniforms since 2017.
The NHL says in its press release that “Fanatics will continue to work closely with the NHL to prepare for the debut of its on-ice uniforms during the 2024-25 season. Fanatics has assembled an experienced team of hockey industry leaders with decades of direct experience working with the NHL and its teams for on-ice and performance products.”