The Thick Blue Line

July 7, 2022

Why Gatorade got jilted by the NHL.

When I heard about PepsiCo striking an endorsement deal with the National Hockey League that did not include Gatorade, my first reaction was, whaa??? Gatorade had been an NHL sponsor for 16 years. The announcement of the endorsement included PepsiCo brands MTN DEW, Aquafina, Rockstar, Lay’s, Tostitos, Ruffles, Doritos, Cheetos, Rold Gold and Miss Vickie’s, but no Gatorade.

I could only conclude that PepsiCo made some sort of weird decision to cater to hockey fans like me, who prefer to get their exercise reaching into the snack bag while watching Patrick Kane pirouette through the offensive zone. But another announcement is clearing this up, sort of.

The NHL has struck a deal with BioSteel, a “sports hydration” brand that, like Gatorade, is based on replenishing electrolytes. BioSteel, instead of Gatorade, will be the NHL’s “sports hydration partner.” It will be the brand we see wallpapered behind benches and in penalty boxes, and in the bottles that the goalies keep atop their nets.

The provenance of BioSteel may have helped. It was co-founded in 2009 by Michael Cammalleri, a winger who played 15 seasons for the Kings, Canadiens and other NHL teams. The other co-founder is John Celenza, a former intern for the NHL Players’ Association.

Cammalleri, at 5 feet 9 inches tall, was often considered undersized during his playing days – but, as they say, he “played bigger.” Now he’s played big enough to muscle the world’s largest beverage company out of an NHL contract. Well done, sir.

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