Bradley Rangell spent decades in the banking industry advising sports owners, brokering mergers and acquisitions and financing franchise sales. Through that time at Lehman Brothers, Citibank and his own shop, Iron Clad Sports, Rangell developed an enviable network of high-ranking executives so when he invested in Tovi Hockey, a small stick-making startup, he arranged a meeting with former NBA commissioner David Stern. 

This was in late 2019, and the founding team at Tovi were presenting to an analyst at the office of Micromanagement Ventures—the investment firm co-founded by Stern and John Kosner—when Stern himself walked by the conference room’s large glass window. Aaron Krause, a Tovi board member best known as the inventor of the Scrub Daddy sponge, waved one of Tovi’s patented, fully carbon-fiber sticks.

A few minutes later, Stern entered the room, kicked his feet on the table and said, “This, I gotta see.”

Krause launched into his full Shark Tank-style pitch, only for Stern to interrupt him halfway through the presentation.

“Enough, enough, I’ve heard enough,” Stern said. “It’s the greatest damn stick in the world. Is it approved by the NHL?”

The Tovi stick is designed to help players increase their swing speed with perforated construction that allows air to flow freely through the blade.

It was not. Tovi was hoping to secure the backing of a player or team before seeking approval, at which point Stern himself vowed to call an old friend, who also just so happened to be NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Tragically, Stern suffered from a brain aneurysm and died a few weeks later, but Bettman’s assistant followed up a month later, saying that Stern had called over to the league office a few times and that Bettman still wanted to take the meeting.

“David was not interested, necessarily, in investing in sports equipment, but he liked the presentation and was a guy who liked to help other people,” Kosner recalls. “He’d roll up the sleeves. I mean, he would offer some free abuse as part of the thing, but he was engaged and volunteered to contact Gary.”

That presentation with Bettman went favorably, and after a pandemic-induced delay, the NHL began its testing process, culminating in conditional clearance for Tovi Hockey sticks to be used in league games and practices as of March 2021. It has received endorsements from several notable retired hockey players, including Mark Recchi, Frank Simonetti, Rick Middleton, Mike Eruzione, Craig Janney and Ken Linsman.

“We believe it is likely NHL players will be using our sticks this season,” says Tovi COO Richard Fucillo.

Earlier this week, Tovi acquired Raven Hockey, which specializes in youth sticks built more appropriately for younger players. The combination of technology and distribution channels will result in the release of the Tovi Raven Pro Series youth stick line, just as Tovi is also announcing a new pro-caliber sticks: the Mirage and Sabotage Pro v3.

“For 20 years since the carbon fiber stick came into the market, all those makers basically make the same stick just a little bit lighter every year, but they haven’t changed anything in it,” says …….


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