Bauer Hockey has announced a multi-faceted, 10-year global initiative designed to increase hockey participation among those families not currently involved with the sport and to ensure the future of the game by adding 1 million additional players – on top of current participation growth projections – by 2022.

The first phase of the initiative, announced at Bauer Hockey's annual Bauer World event, is an in-depth Canadian research project designed to identify the core reasons why nearly 90 percent of Canadian children choose not to play hockey. In partnership with Hockey Canada, Bauer Hockey will conduct two pilot research projects in Nova Scotia and Ontario beginning by January 2013. Subsequent phases of this 10-year plan will include similar studies alongside USA Hockey in the United States as well as in key markets around the globe.

At the current hockey participation growth rate of 1.5 percent per year, an estimated 975,000 additional players will be playing hockey in 10 years. Under the Bauer Hockey-led initiative that aims to more than double the growth rate by 2022, the sport could add a total of 1.9 million players, approximately 1 million more than current growth rate projections.

"As the industry leader, we feel it is our responsibility to invest the resources necessary to help propel our game to new levels," said Kevin Davis, President and CEO of Bauer Performance Sports. "In order to achieve these goals, we need to broaden our consumer insights and employ a unique approach."

The two Canadian research projects will study potential barriers to play for non-hockey families and explore factors that may vary by region and demographics. By partnering with Hockey Canada, Bauer Hockey looks to identify these factors, determine the necessary steps to break down the obstacles and develop strategies for growth on a regional and national level.

"Hockey Canada believes that every youngster growing up in Canada should have the chance to play hockey," said Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith. "As an organization, we know there are many Canadians who would like to give hockey a try, but haven't yet. Bauer's initiative will help us pinpoint strategies to engage youth in hockey and develop programs to make hockey a lifelong engagement for all Canadians."

Bauer Hockey is currently working with USA Hockey to develop a similar research pilot in the United States to complement the organization's successful membership development program and American Development Model, efforts which have positively impacted participation and retention rates among youth players. Over the next year, Bauer Hockey expects to roll out similar programs across the globe by working with the International Ice Hockey Federation as well as other national governing bodies.

Bauer Hockey's focus on increasing participation is the first pillar in its commitment to ensure the future of the sport. In addition to adding new players to hockey, Bauer Hockey is also focused on raising the overall level of safety awareness and education to ensure those that do play hockey remain with the sport for many years to come. Mark Messier, who joined forces with Bauer Hockey as a result of the company's recent acquisition of Cascade Sports, will take a leadership role in both growing participation and increasing player safety. Like Bauer Hockey, Messier has been heavily involved with elevating safety education and awareness, including through his work on The Messier Project.

"This is a win-win situation for everyone. In addition to a sport that is fun and offers all the benefits of physical fitness, hockey teaches life lessons that build character and develops good citizens," Messier said. "We are excited about this program because as we learn about new ways to grow the game and protect the players, more and more people will have the chance to experience this incredible sport."

Upon completion of the research studies, Bauer Hockey will announce its findings and work closely with each country's governing bodies to help build the necessary programs to address the barriers to entry and increase participation.

Posted By: Bauer Hockey


10/18/12 5:39 PM

brant feldman said

If Bauer being the leading company right now in hockey is going to really get to a million new players, then you should try and attract more females. You support the CWHL and Hockey Canada/USA Hockey national teams, but you do nothing to activate these players. I represent the two ladies on the cover of the Hockey News this week, and have never seen any real response from your company to try and use them like you do with NHL players. Mr Davis, if you think your going to develop 1 million new players, they all wont be guys. I can guarantee you that. Your company needs to use female role models / the best of the best and use them in your advertising to grow new kids. I do recognize that in the past you have worked with Hayley Wickenheiser who will be a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but where do you really see her. Not at retail, not in the catalog outside of the online presence. You need to use these athletes mixed with NHL players and show females at Canadian Tire or SportChek that we want to reach you too with your contemporaries. If you want to reach a million new players if 35% of that is female, then you need to cater to the audience.

10/24/12 3:06 PM

Eddie Delgado said

Hockey has long been the last bastion of segregation in sports; lacking sincere and proactive initiatives to diversify the sport of hockey. The NHL’s little known “Hockey is for Everyone” has done a poor job of reaching out to the communities that will make a difference in the growth and sustainability of grassroots hockey.

Unfortunately, the focus has been too much on the ice segment, without any real focus on the grassroots approach to grow such activities as floor hockey and inline hockey. Much like Flag Football, and what it has done to grow participation, and even more important, organizations like Pop Warner Football and what they’ve done since the 1930’s to grow football. The hockey community (NHL, USA Hockey, AAU, etc.) has done very little to nothing in regards to bringing hockey to more schools, and communities outside of the suburban elite.

If hockey is to grow, it needs a comprehensive initiative to reach out to the inner city communities, schools, and parks & recreation to support the grassroots elements of the sport; begin with growing the fan base and making hockey a daily, top of mind activity in our schools as part of a health and fitness initiative.

The hockey community and industry needs to make a more sincere attempt to embrace diversity and aggressively change the perception that hockey is not all-inclusive, and does not welcome anyone outside of the perceived all-white elitist population that we currently see at our rinks, events and television.

The sport of hockey will also help itself by letting go of old traditions that have kept the sport locked in the past. The fact that the NHL has never embraced the CHL (Colored Hockey League) that was successful from 1895 through 1930 is unconscionable. While other mainstream sports have overcome racial barriers since the 1940-1960, hockey didn’t seem catch on and join the sports movement to integrate.

Hockey is on its way to becoming a niche sports if it doesn’t realize that its policies, look and feel is stuck in a period of time that has been long left behind.

Eddie Delgado

2/5/14 1:56 PM

Armond Meagher said

Just watched Mark talk about grow the game. He seems to know what is wrong. I am 69 and play twice a week year around and love it! Coaching is a problem, not all, but lots. I just witnessed parents not allowed in the dressing room so the coach could scold 8 and 9 year olds how they played that is wrong and is not coaching. This has been going on since my son played who is now 40 and has never played since minor hockey. Now my grandchildren are involved. Thanks

2/22/14 3:44 PM

Colin Mann said

I also just listened to Mark, and agree, he seems to be heading to the right solutions. In my opinion the problem with minor hockey today is money. My daughter has her son who is 10 years old in house league minor hockey. He is a great little player. He has around 50 goals this year. He has got 5 hat tricks this year. His ice time is one practice and 1 game a week. A one hour shared practice time a week and one 30 minute game a week in which he might get 15 minutes ice time a week. My daughter wants to advance him up to rep hockey but has second thoughts. She looks at her Uncle and Aunt who put there boy through minor rep hockey at a high level (right up to major midget for York Simcoe Express). He did not get drafted and now is not playing hockey. It cost them thousands and thousands of dollars for this, starting in his bantam years. Registration, equipment, travelling expenses, hotels, meals, etc. They were spending money they did not have hoping their son might make the NHL. Mostly all the other parents on his team that had kids that did or did not get drafted did not have a problem with the expenses as most were fairly wealthy people (own business and high end jobs). Anyone else who had kids in this situation pulled their kids long before they got to this stage as they could not afford all the expense. The Uncle and Aunt were deprived of a lot of the luxuries of life account taking this chance. My question is do you think my daughter should gamble and put my Grandson in rep in taking a chance he might make it. If she waits, with him getting only 1 hour and 15 minutes ice time a week, he will surely fall behind the other kids getting more ice time, better coaching and experience. What about all the other kids parents who can’t afford it either and yet their kids probably could make the NHL if they could afford it. Then there is the debate about the Europeans coming over here and taking Canadian and American Careers. The NHL itself should start helping out by allowing each North American team to be allowed a limited number of European Player on any one team.
Colin Mann