The Boston Globe discussed the impact that the coronavirus, an infectious disease that has been deadly in China, is having for players around the NHL with NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire, equipment managers, and players around the league. Three-quarters of sticks used in the league are made at Chinese factories and travel halted there since late last month as it tries to weather the storm of the disease. Because of that, the NHL hasn’t been able to refresh their stock of sticks during the stretch run of the season.
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire said there was a “major shortage” of sticks during Thursday’s national telecasted game between the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. Hockey manufacturers brushed that theory off but admitted there was some concern.
Bauer and CCM, two of the largest hockey stick brands for NHL players, both make their sticks in China. 39% of NHLers use Bauer sticks while another 36% use CCM ones. True Hockey also makes sticks in China but only 1.4% of players in the league use sticks from that brand. The only brand not affected by the disease is Warrior, which makes 22% of NHLer’s sticks and makes their sticks in Mexico.
“I’ve been kinda looking for some, and I think they’re kinda slowed up a bit for obvious — for a good reason,” said Boston Bruins forward Charlie Coyle, a CCM user, after Saturday’s win over Arizona. “So I am trying to make do . . . trying not to break too many right now.”
Most hockey equipment found in retailers is made in China but Bauer representatives said nearly all of this season’s gear is already in stores or North American storage. More stock isn’t needed until the offseason and the market is flooded.
Hockey sticks can affect how a player is contributing during the season.
Most players order sticks in sets of 12 and they arrive at their practice rink in a week or 10 days but they go through all of them pretty rapidly. NHL players normally go through at least three sticks, which are normally woven and made of fibers, per game, though most hope one of them takes them through the season.
McGuire said that a lot of players are worried about where their sets of sticks are coming from. “It’s a big problem,” he added.
An equipment manager for the Sabres or Red Wings (McGuire wouldn’t say who) said players limited themselves to using a stick per practice and maybe two per game.
The Chinese government put a stop to travel and work around the nation in late January after the virus rapidly spread. The virus cost 724 lives and was reported in about 35K cases as of Friday.
Factories closed on January 25 for Chinese New Year and won’t open again until Monday.
However, the price of raw materials could go up and shipments could be delayed. Once the factories are up and running again, they will have a ton of orders to go through. Many companies are concerned.
Bauer Hockey CEO Ed Kinnaly didn’t expect retailers worldwide to be impacted and said they are stocked through the remainder of the 2019-20 NHL season.
True Hockey marketing manager Corey Gregory said his company is “in pretty good shape” but was uncertain about the next few months if this keeps up but not Warrior as they are making around six days a week. They are prepared to add another shift if needed.
By Harrison Brown