Get Your Leafs Hospital Scrubs Here! NHL Trade Show Hits ACC

It was a few years ago that David Graham, a hockey player at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, thought he'd get his golf-loving dad a Christmas gift."He was researching hockey stick putters and there wasn't one out there," says Graham's business associate, Angela Batchelder. So Graham built one himself. It looks like a hockey stick. It acts like a putter. And he built his business - Hockey Stick Putters - on it. "It took him two years to come up with the mould and design it out of plaster of paris," said Batchelder. "Then he went to China to find a factory. Then he went to get the NHL licence about four years ago."It's a putter - Mike Weir used it once in an exhibition at Augusta - but that's not its main appeal."Golf clubs love them," said Batchelder. "They might sell one Titleist putter, but they'll sell four or five of these. It's a novelty, a conversation piece, but yet it's a functional novelty piece." Graham is in Toronto along with hundreds of other businesses with NHL licences marketing their wares, novelties and collectibles to teams and retailers this week at an NHL trade show at the Air Canada Centre.Here's a look at some team-logoed products coming to a rink, or store, near you:Pillow Pets: They're all the rage in the NFL and college football and Fabrique Innovation Inc. is trying to get into the NHL market.Retro banners: Winning Streak Sports produces embroidered banners on wool - between $29.99 and $59.99 - that chart things like dynasties or logos over the years.Hospital scrubs: Apparently it's the final frontier in apparel for team logos and Fabrique Innovation has cornered the market. "When we applied for licences, the only thing available in apparel was doctors' scrubs. We said okay," said Tom Deluca of Fabrique Innovation. "Now we do for the NFL, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball. ... It's something different. Everybody has T-shirts, this is different. Hang out in a scrub."Women's apparel: Women are demanding more form-fitting and flattering clothes with sports logos on them, rather than jerseys or men's T-shirts. It's a fast-growing segment of the sports apparel business. "Anything with a deep V-neck is hot," Sid Luicana Christie of Canadian Graphics West Inc. "It's something they would find in a high-end boutique store, but we've converted to sports. A man's T-shirt? Women don't want that. They want to still feel sexy, still look good."Tailgating equipment: How about a foldable banquet table with your favourite team's logo on it? "I know it's hard to tailgate at a hockey game, but they need something to do during the summer," said Ken Paradiso of Wild Sports.Or call it homegating. "Due to the economy, people are staying at home. Rather than going to a football game, they're bringing their flat-screen TV out in the backyard and watching the game outside," he said. "It's based on the fanatical fan. The concept we try to create is a high-end product that is completely portable and supports your favourite team."Another tailgate-homegate idea: Game On's cosy - an oversized insulated drink holder. "The ultimate piece of fan gear you can wear," said Game On salesman Sam Hornstein. There's also a smaller version for shot-glasses.

Get Your Leafs Hospital Scrubs Here! NHL Trade Show Hits ACC 1

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