Photo credit: Chris Gordon
The world’s most famous hockey player has got some new gear. After dropping CCM over the summer, Alex Ovechkin unveiled a new six-year sponsorship with rival manufacturer Bauer, whose equipment Ovi used for the first three years of his career. This is Ovechkin’s second new sponsorship of the week after news of his long-term deal with superpower Nike for “lifestyle” and “performance” products surfaced on Thursday night.
“I think that CCM treat me well,” Ovechkin told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “They help me a lot and without that project I can’t score 65 goals. But in that kind of moment and that kind of situation right now, I feel that Bauer is company who I’m looking forward to work with. I played with this stick a couple years ago and I like it.”
The move doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. With Ovi’s ditching CCM — and therefore their parent company Reebok — that left Bauer as the only company with the cash to pickup a superstar endorsement.
The move was also teased on Bauer’s Web site over the holiday weekend, with their home page sporting a picture of skates with the Great Eight’s trademark yellow laces and the banner “This year will be different.”
And the biggest giveaway? Well that would be the fact that Ovechkin has been sporting Bauer gear for the last week during informal practices at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Ovi showed displeasure with CCM equipment at times — especially their frangible sticks — leading him to switch to Bauer twigs that were simply spray painted over before CCM’s corporate overlords put a stop to it.
“He’s very, very confident in his new equipment and we think that’s half the battle,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said of the switch. “It’s like a golfer with new clubs. He’s been trying his hardest to try to break a stick and so far they seem indestructible and that makes us all smile.”
Bauer and Ovechkin are also donating 108 full sets of youth hockey equipment to the Ketter Capitals Iceplex and Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association in the DC area, along another 108 sets to the Dynamo Hockey School in Moscow. In addition, the Caps presented the PVAHA with a donation of $25,000.
Ovechkin will be featured in the company’s upcoming marketing campaign for their new Vapor APX stick, along with Bauer’s “growth strategy” for expanding their brand in Russia and other parts of eastern Europe.
“That sport is as iconic to that country as it is in other areas of the world where it’s really, really important,” Bauer President and CEO Kevin Davis said. “We know that there’s a tremendous amount of population of players out there and we know how much business that we do so, from a market share perspective, there’s lots of opportunity in that country.
Ovi is just the latest player added to Bauer’s list of star sponsorships which already includes his buddy Nicklas Backstrom plus Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist, Eric Staal, Mike Richards, and Ryan Kessler.
But there is a sad aspect to all this, and that is the end of the ridiculous decapitated head series of CCM commercials. We only hope that Bauer’s — and Nike’s — PR firms can come with an equally terrible idea that perfectly matches Ovechkin’s acting skills.
Ted Leonsis speaks to young hockey players in attendance. (All photos by Chris Gordon; click to enlarge)
Alex Ovechkin greats Bauer President and CEO Kevin Davis.
The Capitals’ new radio voice John Walton MCs the event.
Ted Leonsis, PVAHA President John Coleman, Alex Ovechkin, and George McPhee present a check for $25,000 to the PVAHA on behalf of the Capitals.
Ovechkin and Leonsis share a laugh.
Alex Ovechkin, Bauer President and CEO Kevin Davis, and George McPhee pose for a photo with the kids.