Alex Ovechkin and Bauer have partnered to donate 108 sets of hockey equipment to the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association and 108 sets to Dynamo Hockey School, Ovechkin’s childhood program in Moscow.
The gifts were announced Tuesday at KCI, moments after Bauer CEO Kevin Davis acknowledged what has been suspected for weeks: Ovechkin has signed endorsement deal with the equipment manufacturer.
Davis said the deal is for six years but did not disclose the financial details.
The news conference began with Ovechkin walking onto a stage with a Bauer equipment bag slung over his shoulder and a Bauer stick in his hand. But those weren’t the only logos visible. He also sported sneakers and a t-shirt from - who else? - Nike.
(Not to go on too much of a tangent, but has anyone noticed how Ovechkin’s endorsements have changed since he joined up with IMG in 2009? Basically, he’s gone from Eastern Motors and Hair Cuttery to a portfolio that boasts Nike, Gillette, Bauer and Verizon. And more could be on the way. His agent, David Abrutyn told me today that they’re exploring major sports beverage and automotive endorsements, too.)
Ovechkin had used CCM equipment during his first six seasons in the NHL. Although he used a CCM stick all of last season,he had experimented with other sticks in the previous seasons.
Asked if he was unhappy with the performance of CCM’s sticks and whether he expected to perform better with Bauer products, Ovechkin sidestepped the issue.
“I think CCM treated me well,” said Ovechkin, who scored a career-low 32 goals last season. “They helped me a lot. Without [them] I couldn’t have scored 65 goals. In this kind of situation now, Bauer is a company who I look forward to work with.”
As for the donations, the equipment earmarked for local clubs will be distributed among teams from Baltimore to Hampton Roads, Va., as a way to encourage youth participation, according to John Coleman, President of the PVAHA. Thirty Sets of equipment earmarked for the local area will be donated for use at KCI.
“They will make use of it as they see fit,” Coleman said. “Hopefully it will be in a way to introduce kids to hockey without incurring the big expense in the beginning.” The Caps also presented Coleman with a $25,000 check.
The news conference was attended by several dozen children from many of the programs that will benefit from the donated equipment. They posed for pictures with the former two-time MVP, slapped hands with him and got autographs.
The equipment that’s being donated to Dynamo will be delivered later this month, Davis said.
“Russia and that area of the world is a great growth opportunity for us, especially leading up to [Sochi Games] in 2014,” Davis said. “What we know is [that] hockey is as iconic to that country as it is to some of our biggest markets.”