Over the past season, we’ve seen a lot of incomplete and sometimes contradictory information on what the CWHL players get from the league, in terms of player equipment. Things on Twitter and other spaces came to a boil when Janine Weber, who won the Clarkson Cup for the Boston Blades in overtime, was asked to donate her stick to the Hockey Hall of Fame. This put Weber in a bit of a quandary– if she donated her stick, she’d only have one left when she went to play at Worlds for the Austrian national team.
Weber’s story has a happy outcome– STX, a hockey equipment company, reached out to her on Twitter, and sent her several sticks and a pair of gloves. Weber will take the ice with Team Austria at the Div. I Group A Women’s World Championship on Sunday in Rouen, France.
— STXHockey (@stxhockey) March 10, 2015
So, why did Weber have only one stick left? What, exactly, is the equipment provided to CWHL players?
We reached out to the CWHL, and were told that the league provides helmets, pants, and gloves to players, in addition to team jerseys and socks. Notably, those are skater helmets, pants, and gloves. Goaltenders, whose equipment is notorious for being much more expensive than skater’s, appear to be on their own. Players also had the option buy sticks and skates as a discount from Bauer, a league sponsor. I was kind of surprised to hear that Bauer was a player equipment sponsor– I feel like I never see them mentioned by the league, nor have I seen Bauer mention the CWHL. Digging in the archives, I found a couple brief mentions of Bauer as a sponsor, but not a lot.
When we reached out to Bauer for some clarification, we got a lot more information. Turns out, Bauer provides the league with the aforementioned helmets, pants, and gloves, but also bags. All of this is at no cost to the league.
According to the rep I talked to, they work with the players to make sure that they have the best gear for them from Bauer’s various lines. If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of buying hockey equipment, it’s exactly like buying clothes– everyone has their preferences for how they want things to fit, according to their specific body and the needs of their specific style of game. The way Bauer handles this kind of thing is by having different lines of equipment with different cuts. For example, there are three lines of pants– Supreme, Nexus, and Vapor– each with their own cut– an anatomical fit that is tighter at the waist, a classic fit that is looser through the waist, and a tapered fit that is tighter at the hips. It works similarly for the rest of their gear, for gloves, etc.
Bauer has had this program in place with the CWHL for the past three seasons, and plan to continue this partnership in the future. What they get out of this deal is that they are the league’s equipment supplier– the CWHL mentions them sometimes, and in league advertisements, Bauer can be the only featured brand. Under the terms of their contracts, players have to wear the provided Bauer gear unless they have a paid endorsement with another manufacturer. If a player does have a paid endorsement for equipment, such as Hilary Knight’s deal with STX, the league does ask that the supplier attempt to keep the product consistent with the team’s branding. No custom red, white, and blue breezers for Hilary Knight. 🙂
So, Bauer, one of the biggest and most well-known hockey equipment companies, is supplying some, but not all, of the equipment for skaters. Goaltenders are apparently on their own, answering the question of why Britany Ott is still rocking those baby blue pads from her time at the University of Maine.
Aside from goaltenders, this still leaves a lot of gear uncovered. What about shin-pads, chest protectors, and elbow pads, among others?
In a little experiment, I went to HockeyMonkey, a large online retailer for hockey equipment, and pulled together a cart of what I would consider a full set of equipment for a skater, including two sticks. I stuck within the Bauer line when possible, and tried to pick not the cheapest but also not the most expensive options. In addition to the typical protective gear, I also included a mouth guard, a neck guard, and a jill.
The total price of the equipment all together was $2,069.87. The total of what Bauer/the CWHL covers entirely is $489.97. We’re not sure what the discount on Bauer sticks/skates is, so we did a couple different scenarios to calculate possible cost to the player.
- If the player bought similarly priced sticks and skates from a non-Bauer retailer, the total equipment cost to the player would be ~$1500.
- If the player didn’t buy sticks or skates (not really practical, but maybe they have a deal with someone else) the total equipment cost to the player is $600.00.
- If the discount on Bauer sticks/skates is 20%, a number that we totally made up, the equipment cost to a player is $929.92.
Now, that’s not going to be the cost a player faces every season, but a full season of professional-level competition and practice is going to put wear on gear, FAST. Also, two sticks for a season is possibly optimistic for some players, depending on how they play.
Some players have a stipend from their national team for gear and training, but most non-Team USA or Team Canada players don’t. Hockey ain’t a cheap sport, and while the Bauer equipment deal is a start, I sincerely hope the CWHL expands what player equipment is covered in the future.