Coronavirus shuts down custom hockey stick factory that serves NHL players


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. 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, an official with the company told CBC News. “All other products are OK,” the official said. “If you’re a youth hockey player …  you can go down to your local store and there’s plenty of inventory, because that product ships much earlier in the season.”

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, but if the shutdown extends beyond next week, it could happen, the official said.

“We’ve been in close communication with equipment managers at the NHL level to make sure we have a sense of their inventory levels and [to know] once the factory reopens who to prioritize because they’re getting low.”

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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