When Alex Ovechkin attempts to bounce back from the worst goal-scoring season of his NHL career, he'll be doing it wearing a different brand of skates and wielding another company's stick.
IMG's David Abrutyn today confirmed reports that Ovechkin has decided to make a change and won't be renewing his endorsement deal with equipment manufacturer CCM, which expires at the end of the month. Ovechkin won't be sporting Reebok ZigTech sneakers anymore, either.
“I can confirm that Alex has decided that he is going to go in another direction,” Abrutyn told me in a phone interview. “Obviously, [equipment] is an important part of what a hockey player does on a day-in and day-out basis, and he felt he wanted to go in a different direction.”
(The downside of this, of course, is that we won't get another commercial with Ovechkin's head on a shelf in a school locker. You know the one — “Soon the championship will be ours, all ours! Muhahahaha!”)
It's been well documented over the years that Ovechkin wasn't always happy with the sticks CCM has provided for his use. During my time covering the Caps, I recall him occasionally experimenting with sticks from other manufacturers, and sometimes attempting to hide the fact by spray painting over the logo. I am told, though, that he used CCM sticks exclusively from the end of the 2009-10 season through the end of last season.
Abrutyn declined to say which companies Ovechkin is considering for his next endorsement deal. But, outside of CCM and its chief rivals, Bauer and Easton, there aren't too many options when it comes to high-end hockey equipment.
I imagine we'll hear something prior to the start of training camp and I bet it will be worth a lot of coin.
Abrutyn also confirmed recent reports that Ovechkin is now endorsing Canadian candy bar Mr. Big.
“Alex is going to be the face of Mr. Big in Canada and will be a part of a large promotion this fall,” he said.
Ovechkin traveled from Moscow to Toronto last month for a photoshoot and the filming of a commercial to support the promotion.
But just because Ovechkin is now appearing on a candy bar wrapper, it doesn't mean he's been consuming more of them this summer.
Abrutyn shrugged off concerns that Ovechkin is out of shape, which popped up last month after the former two-time MVP appeared a bit pudgy in a video on the Capitals’ website.
“It was much ado about nothing,” Abrutyn said. “Having seen it, his posture wasn't great. The impact of the video probably was a little awkward. But as photographs showed two days later, as well as the ones from before that when he was with [John Carlson] on the 4th of July, it was much ado about nothing. Perhaps it's a further sign that hockey is as relevant as it's ever been in Washington.”