There have been talks of the NHL being low on supply of hockey sticks for their players since the Coronavirus has forced the shutdown of at least three major hockey stick brand manufacturers within China, including Bauer, CCM, and True Hockey. With the average NHL player using 60-120 sticks per year, each player would generally have been using just over 1 stick per game since the end of January when production ceased. Although you might not see players grabbing teammates' sticks just yet, with the uncertainty of how long the virus may continue, there is cause for concern with the supply of hockey sticks to the NHL.
Although the NHL uses far more sticks than most leagues, there is a massive demand for pro stock sticks within all levels of the game, including various levels of Pro, College, and Major Junior that often aren’t taken into consideration.
HockeyStickMan works closely with over 150 teams within these levels of hockey, and we have sensed the tension from equipment managers regarding their stick supply for their players. From discussions with various contacts around the league, we’ve accepted that CHL players are using anywhere from 12-50 sticks a season, with most players averaging out around one per week. This same ratio applies for most NCAA Division 1 teams as well, with College players using around one hockey stick per week (or 25 per season). The AHL operates with a very similar structure to that of the NHL, with stick usage being around 1 per game.
Now…we aren’t saying math is our forte, but based on these averages, here is a break down of how many sticks would have been used in the last 3 weeks throughout Major Junior, NCAA, and Pro leagues.
Around 80% of sticks in these leagues are manufactured by Bauer, CCM, or True, which means around 20,000 hockey sticks have been used in the last few weeks without being replenished.
That’s a pretty astonishing number in such a short time, with large implications on not only the current stick supply diminishing, but an anticipated backlog for manufacturers once facilities re-open. There have been preliminary hopes of stick production starting again within the next week, but pro players have still been erring on the side of caution with their sticks to make sure they don’t run out before their new batches arrive.
If the facilities remain in shutdown, there may be a temporary void in the marketplace for hockey sticks, giving companies like Warrior (who manufacture their pro stock sticks in Mexico) an opportunity to absorb some of this demand. Professional, Collegiate, and Junior teams are beginning to think of creative ways to work around this potential shortage - HockeyStickMan has already acted as a resource for some pro teams who have reached out to us to help provide sticks with the custom specs their players require to perform their best. From a consumer's perspective hopefully this won't have too much of an effect on product availability, but the longer the virus lasts, the deeper the ripple effects will go, especially when it comes to new releases that are still in production. Thankfully we at HockeyStickMan have a solid inventory of top end pro sticks in stock and should be able to weather the storm, but if you're thinking of buying a new stick, you might be better off pulling the trigger sooner rather than later!