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Will We Ever See Sneaker Influence in the NHL?




The question of why we don’t see sneaker influence in the NHL isn’t a hard one to answer. The sport takes place on the ice, and there’s simply no reason for sneakers to make an impact. At the same time though, the idea of a sport promoting shoes beyond its own relevant footwear isn’t as odd or uncommon as you might think.

After all, the NFL has seen stars ranging from Dan Marino and Barry Sanders to Brett Favre and Richard Sherman all market signature shoes that had nothing to do with football — in most cases resembling basketball or training shoes. Meanwhile, Yankees legend Derek Jeter was such a force on the endorsement market that he had his own line of Air Jordans (one of which sold for $40,000 a couple years ago!).

Even given these examples, it’s still a little difficult to imagine anything relevant to hockey. Or at least it used to be. Earlier this year the online sneaker community SoleSavy highlighted exactly what a sneaker-to-hockey crossover might look like. In keeping with its habit of showcasing some of the most inventive and interesting shoes out there, the community tweeted out an incredibly cool design concept that specifically fitted the iconic Air Jordan 1 onto a pair of ice hockey skates. Granted, they look a bit like they’re fitted for, say, the Red Wings or Hurricanes by virtue of the classic Air Jordan 1 colorway. But putting aside uniform matching, they actually look like they’d be both stylish and functional skates.

Looking at this example, we have a simple question: Can anyone think of a reason this wouldn’t work, or shouldn’t be tried?

For starters, this sort of sneaker-inspired skate would make for a really fun opportunity to link professional teams from the same cities or states. So, for example, following the New Balance shoe deal that was secured by Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray, the Avalanche could — in theory — wear skates based on the designs for Murray’s own shoes. New York’s teams could pull from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant footwear. The Kings could make use of LeBron designs, or even reach back a bit for a Kobe Bryant inspiration. Really, there would be all kinds of fun examples.

Alternatively, as with the NFL and MLB examples given above, sneaker-to-hockey crossovers could simply be used to recognize and elevate NHL stars. In other words, we could see sneakers crafted for Mikko Rantanen for Avalanche fans to buy and wear on the street. Or we could see Nathan MacKinnon (who’s already been compared to MJ!) given some sneaker-inspired skates like the Air Jordan 1 examples to wear and promote on the ice. Either way, the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched or odd once you really think about it.

Now, how all of this would work with respect to the NHL’s participation, apparel deals, and so on is anybody’s guess. And there is (to be clear) no indication anything like this will happen anytime soon. But it’s also clear that it could, as well as: some of the results might be really cool.

At any rate, it’s a fun thing to think about during the offseason!

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