‘Puck The Virus’: Hockey Team’s Creative Way To Support Workers

Harry How/Getty Images

Nicholas Elias Contributor
Font Size:

To support their staff after the suspension of the NHL and AHL seasons the Utica Comets created a “Puck the Virus” t-shirt. 

The shirt can be found on the Comets website for $25, all revenue from the shirts goes directly into paying for the arena workers salaries. “My hope is that we get through this without any employees going anywhere,” said president Robert Esche of the Comets in an interview with ESPN, “I think we’ll be much stronger coming out of it, like the whole country will. But we have some work to do.” As of Thursday there have been no layoffs by the Utica Comets. (RELATED: Tampa Bay Lightning, Bauer Fight Coronavirus)

The Comets, according to Esche, have sold 2,000 t-shirts locally, nationally, and internationally. “Our goal is to keep everybody whole, on a regular paycheck cycle,” Esche said. The team spends around $65,000 a week on payroll, healthcare, and workers compensation. The funds from the t-shirt are also used to pay for hourly and part-time employees like concessions workers and Zamboni drivers. The shirt has sold well in Vancouver, the parent-team of the Comets being the Vancouver Canucks, and California as well.

“Every small business is going through this right now,” said Esche, “We’re the smallest media market in the AHL. All we’re trying to do is stay afloat. The coolest thing about it is that during such a bleak time, it’s reenergized our staff to something I’ve never seen the likes of, which is very impressive in the face of all of this.”