When the news broke earlier this morning, I was concerned. I thought Adidas wanted out of the big four major sports. But instead, they are tapping back into a market that I didn’t think they would try to get involved in. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
Adidas is leaving the NBA and they know that they still can be a powerhouse in sports. They are huge with soccer and they are very strong in the college sports world. But with hockey being at the bottom of the four major sports — plus their ownership of Reebok — taking over the NHL was an easy choice. All they had to do was beat the competition and they did just that.
So starting with the 2017-18 season, Adidas will be the king of the ice.
The reason why I feared this move is because what I’ve seen from Adidas with their design ideas for college sports and the NBA. It’s Adidas who ushered in the sleeves jerseys in the NBA and forced three stripes on all warmup gear. It’s Adidas that gave us tight-fitting, poorly-designed college football jerseys.
Of course if we look at what Adidas did with the college hockey sweaters, you’ll see that it’s not bad at all. But with a chance for marketing to a bigger audience, it’s still a concern.
I don’t foresee the three stripes making it to an actual jersey used for a game. But the practice jerseys, the caps, the shirts, all that away from the ice will have the three stripes. Adidas will find a way to make their own mark in the league. They might do something crazy like gradient jerseys (which had a brief appearance in the 90s) or something wild and colorful like what they did with the baseball jerseys.
But what we can expect aside from the three stripes is the potential of ads. The ads will come and soon enough, Adidas will try to minimize the logos with some new-age material so ads will take place. That’s my fear and it probably could happen.
But for now, looking at what Adidas did to the NBA and to college sports, I am not too optimistic with what the NHL will be like in a couple years. It could be disastrous but I hope it won’t be.