The countdown is on to the end of the Reebok Era.
Today, the NHL officially announced a new partnership with Adidas. The company will take over production of all NHL jerseys beginning with the 2017-18 season.
Reebok has had the NHL uniform contract since 2007 and has been a subsidiary of Adidas since 2005. So this will be a bit of a lateral move.
Before the panic sets in about the bastardization of the hockey sweater via advertising, we should take note of what was discussed at the press conference.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said:
There have been some suggesting that this deal means it's inevitable that there'll be advertising on uniforms and that's just not true.
We are not currently considering putting advertising on NHL jerseys. There have been no discussions formally or informally with anybody about doing that.
I think everybody agrees that the history, tradition and respect that goes with NHL sweaters is something that we and Adidas are very respectful of. So reinventing isn't something that we're about to embark upon.
If there are better fabrics that are more comfortable and help performance, that's one thing. But we happen to like our jerseys a lot and we think our fans do as well.
Unless he's outright lying, jersey ads aren't something we need to worry about right now. Could that change in the next two years? Sure.
It was also nice to hear Adidas president Mark King speak respectfully of hockey sweaters. He said:
The hockey jersey is very traditional and it's very much a fabric of the game and I think the integrity of that is very important to the NHL and the game.
With U.S. football, we use this Techfit technology, which is really light and it fits closer to the body. It's a dramatic shift from where the uniform is today but that would probably be the first thing we would look at.
It's really the weight of it. It's much lighter and allows much more flexibility and mobility.
Sounding a bit like the Sharks there but let's move on.
To an extent, these guys are just saying what we want to hear right now. It's a big announcement so they're hoping to quell any negativity at the outset.
When Bettman said this deal doesn't mean jersey ads are inevitable, that's true because jersey ads were always inevitable — no matter who got the new contract.
The NHL is a business driven by money and if there's more to be made, they will do what they need to.
However, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, being put on by the NHL and outfitted by Adidas, is another story entirely.
"With respect to the World Cup," Bettman said, "we've had some discussions about [jersey advertising]. But there's nothing imminent right now."
So we'll keep an eye on that.
As we usher in the Age of Adidas, let's keep our fingers crossed it isn't also the Age of Ads.