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The NHL playoffs begin Saturday with the Carolina Hurricanes the slight favorites to raise the Stanley Cup. The playoff opener will also mark the start of the NHL’s partnership with BodyArmor as the league’s new official sports drink partner.

The agreement, which runs through the 2028-29 season, will have the brand integrated on benches during games and practices with coolers, squirt bottles and towels. It will also be featured on rink dasherboards and include a major media campaign.

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Financial terms of the deal were not released, but BodyArmor Sports Nutrition CMO Tom Gargiulo makes clear what this partnership means for the brand. “It is the biggest investment BodyArmor has ever made,” he said in a phone interview.

Gargiulo sees this as a total investment in the sport with plans to buy ice time for kids and adults to get more people involved in hockey. As part of the sponsorship, BodyArmor also signed a deal with the NHL Players’ Association. “It gives us the ability to leverage the full scale of the sport,” Gargiulo said.

The NHL deal comes as BodyArmor expanded to Canada in January for its first market outside the U.S. It added reigning and three-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid as an endorser and previously signed Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Gargiulo says the brand will sign more NHL players to endorsement deals.

BodyArmor’s other endorsers include Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr. and U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan. BodyArmor also has a league-wide deal with MLS.

BodyArmor enters Canada as competitor BioSteel is reeling. BioSteel, which was co-founded in Toronto in 2009 by then-NHLer Mike Cammalleri and entrepreneur John Celenza, built a following among NHL players and teams and became the sport’s official partner in 2022, replacing Gatorade. It also signed deals with a half-dozen franchises.

In September, Biosteel Sports Nutrition filed for creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and announced plans to lay off 95% of its employees.

BodyArmor, which was fully acquired by Coca-Cola in 2021, was combined with Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand under one organization as they look to challenge industry leader Gatorade, owned by PepsiCo.

Last year, Gatorade commanded 63.5% of the U.S. sports drink market, while Powerade had 14.3% and BodyArmor 12%, according to research firm Euromonitor.

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