Michael Cammalleri’s phone has been blowing up. NHL players are reaching out to the BioSteel co-founder as rumors of the sports drink brand being named the Official Hydration Partner of the league started to surface and the media has been asking for their thoughts.
“Guys are saying things like ‘I say ‘I’ve always drank it,’ but what else can I say?’ Cammalleri says. “It’s cool to have this authenticity from a player standpoint.”
The rumors are as true as the players’ authenticity and love for the brand. Today, BioSteel and the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) announced a multi-year partnership naming BioSteel the Official Hydration Partner of the league and players association.
Founded in 2009 by Cammalleri, who spent 15 years in the NHL, and business partner John Celenza, BioSteel offers athletes and consumers a better-for-you zero-sugar sports drink with natural ingredients and electrolytes in an eco-friendly Tetra Pak.
“For me as a player, I was literally pouring out the other stuff and putting (BioSteel) in water bottles and drinking it on the bench,” says Cammalleri, who played for the Kings, Canadiens, Flames, Devils and Oilers from 2002-18. “This was born in the NHL locker room, so definitely a full circle moment, for sure.”
To kick off the new partnership, BioSteel will serve as a presenting sponsor of national coverage for tonight’s 2022 NHL Entry Draft across Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. Beginning in the 2022-23 NHL regular season, BioSteel products will be utilized by NHL players on each bench, penalty box and goal net.
The company will have a year-round platform to activate brand programming with NHL marks, logos, teams and players, including at the NHL Scouting Combine and NHL Draft, which includes a new BioSteel-sponsored Prospects Portal on NHL.com. BioSteel will also be a presenting partner of a to-be-announced marquee NHL social media platform, and will serve as the presenting partner of the Hobey Baker Award given to the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player in the country.
“It truly is a brand embedded in hockey and that breathes the sport,” says Kyle McMann, NHL senior vice-president of North American business development. “It was made by a player inside an NHL locker room and is widely beloved by current NHL players.
“For us at the league level to see this opportunity finally exist where the brand was at the right moment in their growth trajectory to take this leap and bring the brand born in the locker room onto the bench for all 1,312 regular-season games and all Stanley Cup Playoff games was a really, really great moment and something we’re excited about.”
The partnership with the NHL is the first league-wide partnership for BioSteel, which has existing deals with USA Hockey, U.S. Soccer, Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association and across the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks. The brand has a roster of athlete partners including Patrick Mahomes, Luka Doncic, Christen Press, Connor McDavid, Ezekiel Elliott and Brooke Henderson.
“I want our guys to look at Mike as a role model and see that there are things you can do when you retire as a young man that are outside of playing hockey and still be successful,” says Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, who played with Cammalleri on the Kings in 2002. “Just because you’re playing in the NHL now doesn’t mean you can’t work on all these different aspects simultaneously while you’re playing.”
BioSteel replaces sports drink behemoth Gatorade as NHL and NHLPA partner, though PepsiCo will maintain exclusive NHL and NHLPA North American rights in the carbonated soft drinks, water, energy drinks and savory snack categories, extending a two-decades-long relationship.
The partnership with the NHL and NHLPA provides a massive boost for BioSteel, which has its sights set on growing into a top-4 sports hydration company. Currently, BioSteel is fifth in market share behind Gatorade (70%), Powerade, BodyArmor and Electrolit, per Beverage Business Insights.
BioSteel, which is majority-owned by cannabis company Canopy Growth, has been able to expand distribution in the United States by leveraging Constellation Brand’s Gold Network. BioSteel secured partnerships with more than 200 distributors and currently has a distributor presence in every county in the country.
“The business is at a point where this deal made sense for us,” Cammalleri says. “It could support our North American distribution and some other global initiatives. For us, it’s hopefully the first of many meaningful deals like this.”