Puck Daddy - NHL

Shop NHL, the League's official online store, hasn't necessarily been kind to the female puckhead.

The Alyssa Milano-designed sexy team shirts were mocked for their impracticality. The lack of third jerseys in women's sizes was criticized. That $325 bedazzled purse remains one of the retailer's most mindboggling impractical offerings; the $40 toaster that burns logos on your bread is a better investment.

(Seriously.)

With that track record, we weren't sure how the Shop NHL lines of officially licensed bikinis would go over with female fans.

There are actually two types of them available: One designed by Calhoun, for teams like the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs; and the other by G-III, which offered them for the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and this one for the Chicago Blackhawks, displayed by the Vanessa Hudgens-ish model on the official site.

Is this something women want? Has Shop NHL finally figured out what to sell to that growing demographic of hockey fans? Or is this another marketing blunder?

We asked a few prominent (and wonderfully cynical) female hockey bloggers their thoughts on the Hockey Bikini to find out.

Joining us for this discussion are "Dave Schultz" from the hilariously inappropriate "I Mean, We Got Guys ..." that covers the WHL; our old buddy Wrap Around Curl from the appropriately named Wrap Around Curl (WHL, NHL, and some NSFW content); and Walkinvisible from Hit The Post, whom you may remember from her plight to secure a Calgary Flames women's-cut third jersey (read parts four, five and six of that ordeal). 

And here ... we ... go.

Q. Your thoughts on the officially licensed NHL bikini? Something you'd wear? Something you'd mock?

SCHULTZ: When the subject of the email was "NHL bikinis" my first thought was *facedesk* followed by "holy [crap], if it's pink with a bedazzled logo I will shank someone."

But actually, the bikinis, if you follow certain teams, are actually pretty cool. I am a Carolina Hurricanes fan (I know, shuddup) and it seems the bikini is not an option.  Seems odd for a team near the ocean and with warm weather. But I could get a Toronto Maple Leafs one, two if I wanted -- one white with blue stripe(s), or blue with white stripe(s).

Would I wear the bikini? Hell no. If I had the body to showcase the thing, possibly. And that is (for me) another issue with the Alyssa Milano line. Her stuff doesn't suck necessarily, but how many *real* women have a body that can pull that off without looking like an overstuffed burrito?

Would I mock someone wearing one?  No, not for the bikini itself.  I mock many people for many reasons, but the things aren't ugly, so no direct ridicule of the bikini. If it really was pink with bedazzled logo, then hell-to-the-yes.

CURL: In the event I a dame who went to beaches, I'd rock a Maple Leafs bikini. But as someone who likes maintaining a pale but not pallor appearance and enjoying air conditioning, I don't know that I will be purchasing it.

Though, the price is right and the cut seems to be a flattering one for a variety of shapes. If I saw another chick in an NHL bikini, I'd high-five her for rocking the colors year round, even if she's a Sens fan. There really is nothing to mock about the suit since it doesn't have sparkles, lace, ruffles or pink. Which seems to be what the NHL thinks lady fans want.

WALKINVISABLE: When it comes to officially licensed NHL gear, it's not about what they offer, it's about what they DON'T offer that gets my back up (as a female).  If it's all about slapping a team logo on an item and making some money off of it so that people can feel like they're supporting their home club, then I'm all for it.

(Example: Um.... what is this?)

My issue is in understanding why the League sometimes thumbs their proverbial noses at an entire gender in items and sizing, or offers women things exclusively in pink. 

Ultimately, my thinking is that if you can purchase these (see below), then the bikini can stay.

2. What are your thoughts on the direction/progress/mistakes for Shop NHL over this season? Are they getting closer to providing female puckheads with items they'd actually buy and wear, or is it still a lost cause? Is there an item or two that have impressed you or depressed you?

SCHULTZ: Browsing around the other apparel available for women, the NHL does seem to be (finally) getting a clue. As in, not everything is pink/baby blue/sparkly.  It does, however, include grossly inflated prices.  For me personally, that is a major hindrance when thinking of purchasing something from NHL.com.

If women are going to shop on NHL.com, they had better not be Ottawa Senators or Phoenix Coyotes fans as there are only 27, 28 items available for those teams. Headbands, pink shirts, purses and a few mediocre jackets, tees, and hoodies available. That's it. Wow, and I thought it was tough being a Hurricanes shopper. Seriously, who thought this awful brown color for any apparel would be a good idea?

Meanwhile, female Flyers (113 items), Rangers (109 items), and Red Wings (103 items) fans have far more options for team apparel.

As for the Flyers (or any team) thong underwear ... seems like something a man would hope his significant other would buy to wear for him or some weird [crap] like that. But what do I know -- I go for comfort with my grundies.

CURL: Just quickly pulling up the women's merchandise on the NHL site -- focusing on the Maple Leafs store specifically --  it does seem to be the store is moving in a better direction. There are low-cut shirts that aren't too questionable. As well as pajamas that look normal and not like lingerie. I think my biggest complaint is how overpriced merch is. Yeah, I get there is licensing and blah blah. But 40 bucks for a T-shirt is insanity.

For every nice shirt the site has, they have tube tops. Tube tops have not been cool since 1998. And they aren't even coming back in a retro 90s re-hash sense. Also, no one looks cute in tube top. NO ONE. And then the purses. I remember when bags like that were awesome. It was in the fourth grade when glitter was cool too and I was crushing on Leo DiCaprio because he was like, sooooo hottttt in "Romeo + Juliet."

I still don't get where they are going with alternative colors and women's jerseys. I would like to know how those do in terms of sale. And if a pink jersey is the only item on a receipt, or were there other items and was it purchased by a male or female. This information has to exist. And for some reason the NHL thinks it should keep producing the sparkle and glitter. Do pink and glitter jerseys fair better for certain markets or teams?

WALKINVISABLE: I'm still devastated and insulted by the "be luv'd" jersey and I don't think I'll ever forgive the NHL for creating a pink, sparkly adult jersey -- or for naming it that. Pink jerseys should only be made in kid sizes, unless it's acknowledging breast cancer research (and even then I don't think it should ever involve a JERSEY).

Other than that, this year I got a pretty sweet flames hat and a jacket I'm rather fond of; neither are on shop.nhl.com but the hat is like a Russian furry hat with earflaps.  As for the jacket: Think flames roller-derby team, or the Pink Ladies from "Grease." So even though I'm still up in arms about the retro throwback jersey being unavailable for "female puckheads", I'm still pullin' out the wallet down at the Flames Fan Attic....

• • •

Great insight, and thanks to some of the best hockey bloggers on the Web for their participation.

Obviously, we'd never discourage women from wearing NHL bikinis, especially if it involved bringing us beers washing the car feeling pride in both their team and their self-confidence. And we'd also never discourage Shop NHL from selling them; in fact, we have some suggestions on how to bring down the cost of materials ...

But as Wrap Around Curl said: The prices are out of whack. As in, who's paying $40 for a Blackhawks bikini when you can have this for the same price:

The Ducks are toast this season ...

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