Hockey is one of the most expensive sports in the world, we all know that. I physically cringe anytime I need to get a new stick for my beer league games.
But what about in the NHL? Players all make enough money that buying new equipment wouldn’t seem like that big of a deal to them, so do NHL players pay for their own gear? Or does someone else cover the tab for them?
NHL players do not pay for their own equipment. Typically, manufacturers will pay NHL players and provide them with free gear in exchange for promotion. This agreement is refereed to as a sponsorship and helps companies get their new hockey equipment in front of the eyes of thousands of potential customers. Furthermore, if NHL players are not sponsored by any hockey equipment manufacturers, their teams will cover the cost of new gear for them.
This is good news for goaltenders, goalie equipment tends to cost far more than regular players.
Breaking in new gear sucks. Something to keep in mind is that NHL players typically only need frequent replacements of sticks, gloves and skates. This is because hockey players are creatures of comfort & superstition, and therefore rarely switch up their gear.
Some players will even use the same pair of shoulder pads for years without requiring a new pair.
Popular Equipment brands in the NHL
The two major companies who supply players with free equipment in the NHL are Bauer and CCM, with Warrior and True behind them.
To get a better picture of each brand’s standing in the NHL, here’s a chart detailing how many players on each NHL team use each one of these brand’s sticks. Oh, for more detail you can check out this article I wrote about the most used sticks in the NHL.
Chart data from 2020-2021 season, data provided by geargeak.com.
How often do NHL players change gloves?
When it comes to gloves, most players like them a certain way. Some players like their gloves soaking wet, while others can only seem to play with a fresh, dry pair of gloves.
How often NHL players change gloves depends on the player. Some players will change gloves after every period, some will use the same pair of gloves throughout the entire game, and some will change their gloves a few times a period.
Players like Patrick Kane and Alexander Ovechkin tend to switch their gloves 2-3 times a period because, as Ovechkin puts it:
“They become extremely wet”.
When players switch out gloves during games they are typically the exact same brand and model, just you know, dryer.
How often do NHL players change sticks?
Unfortunately there is no concrete answer to this question, if you ask 50 different NHL players you would likely come back with 50 different answers.
However, the amount of sticks players go through in a season is enough to annoy people in a team’s head office.
In 2012 while players and the league were negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, one team owner spoke up with the idea of players having to start paying for their own sticks, stating some teams are forking out well over $500,000 a year just for new sticks for their players.
Some players like to switch sticks every period, some like to use the same stick as a long as possible, and others tend to break their sticks far more often than most.
If you’ve played hockey as an adult, especially in the modern era where sticks are no longer made from wood but rather carbon fiber, you know that they tend to break easily which can increase the number of sticks used per game.
Sticks breaking isn’t the only reason players would change sticks, players tend to be superstitious and if the game isn’t going well for them, they will try using a different stick. If a player is currently in the middle of a hot scoring streak, they will typically avoid changing sticks at all costs.
Some players even switch sticks based on different parts of the game. Patrick Laine is a great example, when his team goes on the power play he switches to a brand-new stick, his reasoning?
“You only get so much flex on those seam passes.”
This is true, every time you flex your stick you are actively weakening it. If you can afford to switch to a brand-new stick every power play, you will end up breaking far fewer sticks on your one-timer attempts.
How often do NHL players get new skates?
For most people, including me, hockey skates are the last piece of gear you switch out. Personally, I tend to get two to three seasons out of a pair of skates before I find they are at a point where they need to be replaced.
But then again, I’m not playing at an elite level. So, how often do players in the NHL get new skates?
It varies from player to player. Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning says he uses a new pair of skates every ten games. Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks said he used to get a new pair of skates four to five times a season. Travis Dermott a defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs has been quoted as saying he gets a fresh pair of skates every 45 days.
Before Patrick Marleau changed to a newer generation of skates, he was actually forced to cut down the number of skates he uses every season to two or three. This is because the brand he used, Reebok 9K Pumps, were no longer available, and he only had about twelve pairs left.
So, as you can see, every player in the NHL is different when it comes to changing their skates. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are players who use a fresh pair of skates every single game.
It must be nice to be in the NHL, getting paid millions to play a game you love and not having to pay for your own gear.
A lot of teams will hold auctions at the end of each season auctioning off game worn equipment which they donate the proceeds of to charity, so that’s good!
Players in the NHL for one reason or the other don’t like change, main staples of their equipment like shoulder pads, shin pads, jockstrap, etc hardly ever get switched out, or at least not nearly as frequent as sticks and skate blades.