NHL Supplier: Bauer Hockey
Location: Blainville, Que.
Last year’s global revenues: US$446 million
Today’s NHL players fortify themselves in equipment as specialized as bespoke suits. Fortunately for equipment makers, high-end customization is as marketable to the weekend shinny warrior as it is to the pros.
For example, Bauer’s latest Vapor 1X skate, now used by about 20 NHLers, offers a full suite of customizable elements, including the sides, back and tongue, and a heat-moulded footbed that optimizes balance and control. This spring, the skate will be available to any consumer prepared to drop the best part of a grand to gain an edge at their local rink. For NHL customers, Bauer, a division of Performance Sports Group Ltd., keeps production in Quebec to ensure quality control and rapid turnaround.
But for last year’s Sochi Olympics, Bauer pushed the modification process into a whole new orbit. Product engineers redesigned the pads and body armour for Canada’s Olympic hockey team from scratch. The result was the OD1N line, which only a handful of NHL players, including New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, now use.
The OD1N goalie pads, for example, are a third lighter than traditional elite models and are made with specially moulded materials designed to deaden rebounds and push the puck to the corners. As for the body armour, “we’ve taken the soft padding layers and put them inside the armour and customized them to match the contours of the players’ bodies,” says Tory Mazzola, a company spokesperson, who notes that Chicago Blackhawk Jonathan Toews is currently using the gear. Bauer has yet to adapt the OD1N designs into a line of high-end equipment that will be more broadly available.