Coronavirus impacts custom hockey stick business as virus shuts down factory that makes them for NHLers

The quarantine applied to a section of central China in response to the coronavirus is having a major impact on something seemingly a world away: hockey sticks in the NHL.

Bauer Hockey makes its custom hockey sticks at a factory in central China, the part of the world that’s the epicentre of the outbreak.

In an attempt to halt the spread of the disease, Chinese officials extended the Lunar New Year Holiday to shut businesses in the region that includes the Bauer facility in Tongxiang City in Zhejiang province. Costing hundreds of dollars apiece, such sticks are typically catered toward pros and other high end players — not amateurs.

Bauer’s factory has been shut since the end of January, and the closing has been extended twice. It’s currently on track to reopen next Monday, but in the interim the company can’t make any new ones.

Only custom sticks are affected, Bauer Hockey chief executive Ed Kinnaly told CBC News in an emailed statement. “For amateur hockey players around the world, we do not anticipate any impact. Our … retail partners have inventory for this season, and the majority of shipping for next season will occur this summer.”

Bauer and another company, CCM, supply sticks for about three quarters of NHLers, according to the Boston Globe, which first reported the story. CCM also manufactures its custom sticks out of a Chinese factory. The company didn’t reply to a request for comment from CBC.

There’s no indication that any teams or players are running out yet, and the company notes they do have some inventory in North America that could help bridge any gap.

“We have backup stock in the U.S. and Canada to meet these needs, and we are working closely with equipment managers to understand their inventory levels and ensure players have what they need throughout this situation,” Kinnaly said.

Still, if the shutdown extends beyond next week, supplies could get tight.

Other hockey equipment manufacturers, including Warrior, Sherwood and goalie equipment maker Vaughn, did not reply to requests for comment on the impact of the coronavirus on their supply chains.

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