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Coronavirus causing NHL hockey stick shortage

Thomas Barrabi

NHL players are facing a potential shortage of custom-made hockey sticks as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China halts production for two of the league’s largest suppliers, according to a report on Saturday.

Hockey equipment companies Bauer and CCM make custom sticks for a combined 75 percent of NHL players, the Boston Globe reported, citing statistics from equipment tracker GearGeek.com. Both companies make their customized sticks at factories in China.

Work at Chinese factories has ground to a halt in recent weeks as authorities in Beijing attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result, Bauer and CCM have been unable to restock for their NHL players is the middle of the 2019-20 season. Bauer CEO Ed Kinnaly said the company is contending with a "very fluid and dynamic global situation."

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"Given the current Chinese government restrictions in place, we have not been able to ship custom sticks, however, the most recent update suggests we can re-start operations February 17," Kinnaly said in a statement. "We have backup stock in the U.S. and Canada to meet these needs, and we are working closely with equipment managers to understand their inventory levels and ensure players have what they need throughout this situation."

NHL equipment managers are facing a “major shortage” of custom-made hockey sticks, NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire said during a broadcast of the Buffalo Sabres-Detroit Red Wings game last Thursday. At least one NHL team purportedly enacted a one-stick-per-game policy for players to stretch their supply.

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CCM did not immediately return a request for further comment on the situations or when production will resume.

Coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in China as of Tuesday morning local time. More than 40,000 people have fallen ill with the virus in mainland China.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.

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