This Old Hockey Bag: Nike Bauer XXX Lite Hockey Stick

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This week we are rewinding about only 10 years. It’s 2005 and Nike Bauer releases the lightest stick to date on the market: the XXX Lite, weighing in at a feathery 420 grams.

The graphics alone screamed at me the minute I laid eyes on it. The double concave shaft with a neon and chrome graphics package that was unreal. The look was seen from outside the boards of the arena. Everyone now had a reason to move away from his or her Easton S17 into the XXX Lite. Not black and dark like most composites on the market, white and neon. Instant Pop. You could watch NHL games and see it even better than the light up laser puck that FOX displayed at the time. It was truly revolutionary.

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Bauer Vapor 1X Hockey Skate Review

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There are few things that create more of a buzz in the hockey gear world than what is happening on April 24th, when the most popular skate in the game, the Bauer Vapor line, will launch. This year’s version will be known as the Vapor 1X skate. It began appearing at the IIHF World Junior tournament in late December 2014 and is now increasingly being spotted around the NHL.

As the hockey world has caught glimpses of the newest Vapor’s standout design, the question constantly asked is “what’s new for the 1X?”  The answer is a LOT. This year’s Vapor line has more upgrades than most releases.

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Bauer Retail Stores

Yesterday, Bauer announced that they would open hockey retail stores across the U.S. and Canada. They will begin with two Bauer retail stores (located in Minneapolis, MN and Burlington, MA) and eventually have up to eight stores in North America. This is the first hockey equipment manufacturer to go direct-to-consumer with physical retail stores. It is undoubtedly a game-changer.

With a large Pure Hockey store also located in Burlington, MA, we are certainly getting a lot of questions about this and the story is generating a lot of chatter in social media and on the forums. Our intent is always to be as open as possible with our customers, so we thought we’d put down some thoughts here about it and share them with you.

This does not come as any major surprise to us. We’ve been talking internally here about this happening for quite some time and it was never IF, it was always WHEN. You can be sure that while we are not overly enthusiastic with the Massachusetts location that Bauer has chosen, this is the U.S.A. This is capitalism. It’s a free market. Bauer is a public company who is always under the gun to grow revenue streams and show gains each and every quarter. That is what it’s all about for Bauer now. If Bauer thinks it makes sense for their business, then so be it.

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We’re on the left.

There are no sirens going off, no panic or bedlam in our offices. We have very good competition in almost every market we are in. That will continue – and likely only get tougher. To coin the most overused phrase of all time, it is what it is. The direct to consumer approach is happening in many other retail sectors (hello, Apple) and it will continue to happen.

That said, we will continue to do what we do – offer a wide range of products, continue to open new stores in new convenient locations and most importantly, go 150% out of our way to serve our customers, unbeholden to shareholders.

So welcome to retail, Bauer. This s*&t ain’t easy!

In a letter yesterday to their retail partners who have supported them, Bauer said all the right things, as most companies do when announcing major initiatives that could impact companies who have long supported them. For example, this

“For both our retail partners and consumers, our retail experiences will serve as living representations of the BAUER brand.  We can now fully showcase at retail our technological advancements, as well as how BAUER products work together.  As a result, we will equip hockey players with in-depth product knowledge so they can confidently purchase BAUER wherever they shop.  A more informed and inspired consumer will benefit our retail partners and ultimately the athletes on the ice.”

….and this:

“Historically, the introduction of manufacturer-owned retail in other industries has supported premium pricing and brand positioning, and local retailers’ profitability has increased as a result.  Similarly, we expect the BAUER brand experiences, with their premium service, development of new customers, lack of close-out product, and first class showcasing of the BAUER brand, to create more demand for BAUER product, incentivize trading up by consumers and bolster a premium brand experience. It is our expectation that our retailers will share in this healthier and more profitable market for BAUER products.”

While actions always speak louder than words, credit to Bauer for the approach on paper.

That said, let’s be honest – this changes the relationship between Bauer and not just Pure Hockey, but between Bauer and ALL of the retailers who have put Bauer in the position they are today. How all that turns out remains to be seen and should be very interesting.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

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Bauer Supreme TotalOne MX3 Stick Review

Bauer TotalOne MX3 Stick Review

Update: Click here to order the Bauer Supreme TotalOne MX3 Stick

It’s that time of the year again. The day we all anxiously anticipate. Another Bauer stick launch that has hockey players everywhere waiting with bated breath. Bauer has this way, even if you don’t use Bauer sticks, of making you anticipate their releases. For people in the hockey industry it feels like this stick was released months ago. That’s how much talk there has been. So which family of sticks is growing this time? A few months back we were graced with the Nexus 8000 and we got the Vapor APX2 last fall. That means that it’s finally time for the Supreme MX3 stick.

Bauer Supreme MX3 Stick

Yet another gorgeous design from Bauer on the MX3 stick. (click to enlarge)

Bauer’s Supreme line was designed for players who need a stick that delivers powerful one-timers and heavy slap shots. Of course, there are players all over the planet using the Supreme stick and dangling through defenses and roofing wrist shots and snappers, but the heavy duty shots are where the Supreme MX3 stick offers serious advantages.

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