Unlike the action on the ice, there’s plenty of elbow room, as this reporter gracefully glides through aisles of t-shirts, hoodies, jerseys — even hats emblazoned with the defunct Winnipeg Jets logo! — at the brand-spanking new N.H.L. store in midtown.
No referee here would dare call “too many men on the ice.” Maybe 25 people at 1 p.m. — tops! — were strolling the spacious 6,700-square-foot retail space where a chandelier constructed of hanging hockey sticks dangles ominously above the register like the samurai swords at Jeffrey Chodorow’s Kobe Club.
Last week’s grand opening of the new hockey hub generated about as much buzz as the new N.H.L. season. “What? Hockey season already?,” you‘re probably thinking. “Isn’t the N.H.L. on strike?” Not exactly.
The beleaguered league’s rush into the danger zone of Manhattan retail is just another part of N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman’s dubious campaign to Americanize Canada’s national past-time — borrowing, as he tends to do, yet another tactic from the N.B.A. playbook.
Perhaps fittingly for the second-tier sport, the N.H.L. has no vanity Fifth Avenue address, like the N.B.A. does, but rather sits one block over on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 47th Street. (The league’s new headquarters is upstairs.)
In addition to plenty of pricey team-themed paraphernalia, the venue also features a wall made of real ice, where customers can scratch their own messages. We went with the obligatory Rangers slogan: “Potvin sucks!“
The shop also includes its own hockey-themed Starbucks! “SCORE A ‘HAT TRICK’ WITH OUR BEVERAGE TRIO!,” according to the sign.
Sadly, though, no mullet-chopping hair salon.