The NHL announced on Wednesday that it’s entered into a “long-term agreement that expands the scale and scope of Fanatics’ relationship with the League.” As in Fanatics is “the official manufacturer of a broad range of NHL apparel and headwear, including replica jerseys.”
We checked with the NHL, and yes, this means what you think it means: When you buy a replica NHL jersey (for around $169.99), you will get a Fanatics logo on it. You’ll need to buy an authentic jersey (for around $359.99) to get the Adidas logo that’s on the sweaters the pros wear.
From the NHL:
Beginning with the 2017-18 season, Fanatics will become the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of all adult replica NHL jerseys, the top tier of which will be called “The Breakaway.” The replica jerseys will be produced by Fanatics Branded, the company’s merchandise division, and will be designed with fan-first features that are intended for enhanced comfort and versatility. Fanatics will also offer a line of youth replica NHL jerseys.
Here’s an example:
Notice how we aren’t privy to what the back of the neck looks like, which is where you’ll find a giant Adidas logo on the authentic jerseys, if the World Cup of Hockey sweaters were any indication. Which means one assumes that’s where you’ll find more Fanatics branding.
Are the jerseys going to look like the ones we see on the ice? Brandon Williams of Fanatics tells us, “The new replicas will look similar to the on-ice versions, however the changes/enhancements have more to do with the feel and wearability of the fan jersey.”
Fanatics is also taking over the Stanley Cup Playoffs gear and is basically powering the NHL’s e-commerce side, including Shop NHL, which has Fanatics branding on it.
“Our new long-term business partnership with Fanatics is a reflection of the growth and evolution of the consumer products and e-commerce business,” said NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Branding Officer Brian Jennings. “After a rigorous process, Fanatics emerged as an optimal choice given their commitments to expanding their already best-in-class capabilities in the e-commerce space, including building a sales and distribution infrastructure in Canada, and to produce lines of replica jerseys and apparel products that will excite NHL fans and drive sales for NHL retail partners.”
Look, maybe you care about this stuff, maybe you don’t, but we’ve already heard from some fans that are a little bummed the replica jerseys are being made by an entirely different company. And we can sympathize with that: You’re paying $170 to look like the guys on the ice, and you have a flapping Fanatics flag rather than the iconic Adidas logo on the sweater.
The main concern is that, overall, there’s not much difference between the two jerseys. So hopefully the concern is eased when they hit the market in 2017-18.
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