Team Effort

Hockey Companies Change On The Fly To Help Support Frontline Workers During Pandemic

Through two World Wars, a great depression and now a global pandemic, CCM, one of the oldest and most trusted names in the world of hockey protective equipment, has a proud history of stepping up in times of crisis. 

With 120 years under its belt, there isn't much the Montreal-based company hasn't seen, and survived. So when the Canadian government ordered all factories and offices to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company did what it does best. It changed on the fly and stepped up to help in a big way.

"We were all sitting at home and watching the news. What we were seeing on a regular basis was that people working in a hospital environment didn't have the protective gear they needed," recalled Jeff Dalzell, CCM's vice president of product creation. 

"As an innovative team, my group consists of a massive collection of designers, engineers, pattern makers, including assembly line workers, and we're thinking to ourselves, 'Geez, these guys are lacking protective gear. We're masters of protective gear on the hockey space and we have a factory.' So we asked, how do we help?"

It was a question being asked by numerous hockey companies that quickly began to step up to help those working on the frontlines during this global pandemic.

Within two weeks of receiving approval to make PPE, CCM's factory at Saint-Jean sur-le Richelieu had more than 25,000 protective face visors and 850 protective hoods rolling off the assembly line and into the grateful hands of Canadian medical workers.

Elsewhere, at the Bauer Innovation Center in Blainville, Quebec, and the Cascade Lacrosse facility in Liverpool, NY., production lines were humming along making their own brand of protective face masks that have been worn by doctors, nurses and others working in COVID-19 hotspots like Massachusetts General Hospital and Yale New Haven Hospital.

"When COVID-19 hit, we shifted almost instantaneously to make protective equipment for medical professionals on the front lines, creating the design and tooling and identifying suppliers and regulatory guidelines," said Dan Sills, executive vice president for Bauer Hockey.

"We had the resources and in-house expertise to prioritize this initiative and ultimately produced over 2 million medical-grade shields, distributing these directly to doctors and nurses risking their lives every day to care for our families, friends, and neighbors battling COVID-19. Our entire Bauer team is so proud to have played a role in helping the global community during this unprecedented time of need."

But Bauer didn't stop there. According to Mary-Kay Messier, vice president of Global Marketing for Bauer Hockey, the company also shared its design plans to encourage other manufacturers to begin producing more shields to keep up with the demand. 

"This Bauer face shield initiative was not-for-profit, and we are continuing to provide these to organizations in need so long as there is a need for face shields and other medical protective equipment," Messier said.

"The outpouring of support has been tremendous. Nurses, doctors and so many others have reached out to express their gratitude and have posted on social media pictures of themselves wearing their shields at hospitals and facilities around the world."

In the battle for the loyalty of hockey players around the world, Bauer and CCM are as fierce competitors as any on-ice rivals. But when it comes to outfitting medical professionals and first responders with personal protective equipment, these two companies led the charge to provide frontline workers with the vital equipment needed to save lives.

CCM also began sharing its designs with any company eager to join in the fight. 

That spirit of giving back is also found in some of the biggest names in the game. In addition to creating their own brand of PPE, CCM teamed up with some of them to donate more than 500,000 surgical masks to hospitals in need of supplies.

"I'll be honest with you, the Sid Crosbys and Alex Ovechkins of the world, they were all   reaching out to ask how can they help?" Dalzell said. "To me this is where you're starting to go beyond sport. This is the character of the people who are in hockey to say they were all wanting to lend a hand in one way, shape or form, and how do we work together to do so."

Bauer athletes were also quick to contribute in any way they could. Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel purchased 5,000 PPE masks from Bauer that were distributed to various hospitals throughout Western New York. 

"I think sports is always a great way to rally people around a cry, and I'm hopeful the things people are doing will bring another angle to it," Messier said. "We've asked our athletes to get on board to tell the story of what Bauer is doing and call on other companies to do the same."

Over in Oxford, Mich., Vaughn Custom Sports has built a reputation for manufacturing high quality goalie gear, including catch gloves, blockers, leg pads, pants, chest protectors and sticks, that is used by professional and amateur goalies throughout the world. 

With the help of a local "Saving Business, Saving Lives" grant, the company shifted gears and began producing thousands of high quality protective gowns, masks and face shields a week. The grant allowed Vaughn to bring back employees and dramatically increase production.

After months of hockey on hold, rinks are slowly reopening and the NHL is preparing to finish the season. Only then will the names of equipment companies that have long been synonymous with safety and performance be back in the spotlight, keeping players of all ages safe and performing at their best. But elsewhere, these brand names will mean so much more to unsung heroes waging a war that everyone hopes will soon be over.

"From our CEO all the way down, it has always been, 'How can we help?'" Dalzell said. "This is an initiative that is not just about the people, it's about the culture and the environment of what we're in.

"You find a different gear as a human to go out and say, 'what can we do and how do we support others who are doing so much?'"




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