Kelley Steadman’s tweet to Bauer Hockey that she was down to only one stick for the remainder of the NWHL season appears to have set off a chain reaction.
Thursday night Cherie Hendrickson, practice player for the Boston Pride, tweeted that she and a number of her teammates had never received their Bauer equipment that had been ordered presumably in September.
Aside from the promise of a salary, providing full equipment to players was a large part of what set the NWHL apart from its main competition, the CWHL, which has thus far only been able to provide partial equipment for players. “We want to make sure they have everything they need as professional hockey players,” a league representative told Today’s Slapshot at the Boston Pride’s media day in early September.
There are bound to be bumps in the road when dealing with third-party vendors, but this is a larger bump than fan jerseys being on backorder. Equipment is essential for professional athletes if they are to remain safe while on the job. If what Hendrickson alleges in her tweet is true, players may very well have been playing with subpar equipment for nearly the entire season.
Today’s Slapshot reached out to the NWHL and Bauer Hockey to ascertain why certain players have not received the equipment ordered at the beginning of the season. NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan replied with the following statement:
“Bauer Hockey has gone above and beyond what is outlined in our official partnership to ensure we meet the equipment needs of our elite athletes,” Rylan said. “They have been a great partner and supporter of the NWHL in its inaugural season, and we thank them for their continued support of our league as well as women’s hockey in general. We continue to work closely with Bauer to ensure our players continue to receive the equipment they need to play at the highest level possible.”
As initially explained to media in September, equipment (much of which was Bauer) was to be purchased by the league for players while Bauer sticks in particular were available for purchase by players. BASE Hockey sticks were provided free to players through a partnership set up between the two organizations.
The NWHL has thus far not elaborated on whether the nature of its partnership with Bauer has changed at all.
Now-departed COO George Speirs was initially hired on at the beginning of the season with the league as the director of hockey operations, under whose purview under which ordering equipment fall. Although the league has not specified who was responsible for ensuring the equipment reached its destination it is possible the delay is one of the reasons behind his exit from the league.
Correction: The original version of the story attributed Kelli Stack’s missing gloves to Bauer, but were instead Easton. The story has been updated with said attribution removed.