The NHL All-Star game has traditionally been a place for hockey manufacturers to pull out all the stops and show off some unreleased gear while all hockey eyes are on the same place. In addition, providing players with custom gear for the ASG helps elevate their experience, making the game truly special feeling and something players want to be a part of. (similar to how outdoor games are treated).
This year's All-Star game had a bit of a Miami Vice vibe to it with the Panthers hosting in South Beach, and there was lots of potential to play around with the baby blue and pink colour scheme. White gloves have been a staple of recent All-Star weekends as well, and made their return this year with a Kraken-esque double blue cuff from all manufacturers.
Production delays the past few seasons have understandably limited the number of custom graphic and limited edition sticks we've seen, but we were hoping this year would be a return to normalcy and we'd be treated to some sweet custom gear. Overall? Meh.
TRUE was our big winner on the weekend, doing it right by rolling out the new Catalyst 9X3 stick that we've seen get some practice use recently. Slated for a summer release, we expect to see more and more of these moving forwards.
We also saw custom stick & skate graphics for a couple of their biggest stars in Mitch Marner & Connor Hellebuyck. True's pro services are a big part of why they've been attracting so many new players, and this will only help - though maybe there is something to be said for smaller brands being able to treat their biggest stars better.
BAUER put their best foot forward for their goalies, making new seafoam blue pad sets for all of their participants, and notably debuting their new Hyp2rlite goalie stick graphic in the hands of Andrei Vasilevskiy. While we are excited to see more of the Hyp2rlite, we wish Bauer would have gone a little bit bolder and add some pink to the pads.
On the player end, we didn't notice anything besides lots of regular Sync, Hyperlite, and AG5NT graphics - the closest we got to something special was Nick Suzuki's red AG5NT that has already seen plenty of game action in Montreal.
CCM did not show us much at the All-Star game, with their big news on the weekend being locking up Connor McDavid to a long term deal with the brand. Other than that, it was a disapointing display of CCM sticks, with Sergei Ovechkin's FT5 Pro being the most exciting CCM weapon in use. (It appeared to be at least an intermediate stick judging by where the graphic cuts off... he is well on his way to using 100 flex just like dad).
On the gear front, we did see some FT6 Pro skates worn by Sarah Nurse. Would have been nice to see the FT6 Pro twig as well given that they are expected to release around the same time! Alex Carpenter had some sweet custom graphics on her AS-V skates, but they are aftermarket decals, not supplied by CCM.
Warrior didn't have anything on display at the game itself either, although Rasmus Dahlin was using the LX2 Pro stick during the hardest shot competition. For the most part, the game featured Alpha LXs and a couple QR5 Pros - not even a Novium from what we saw.
We also got excited when we saw Alex Carpenter was using a custom USA graphic on her Warrior twig, but closer examination revealed that it was actually an Alpha QX graphic, which she has had since at least the 2020 ASG in St Louis - a good example of how we used to see custom graphics more frequently.
Finally, Sherwood didn't debut anything new that we noticed (maybe a new glove model - keen eyes can help us confirm?). A bit disapointing given that they had hometown hero Matthew Tkachuk to market, but with how well Sherwood has done re-establishing themselves in the NHL the past few seasons, we won't hold it against them.