|Products||Ice hockey skates, sticks, helmets|
Koho is a brand of ice hockey equipment that originated from Finland. Currently, Koho equipment is manufactured by CCM (formerly, "The Hockey Company"). Koho is especially known for its goaltending equipment. The main endorsees, instrumental to marketing the brand throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, included Arturs Irbe, Patrick Roy, Félix Potvin, Jocelyn Thibault, Tommy Salo, Mathieu Garon, Jean-Sébastien Giguère and Roberto Luongo. Although Koho had the support of high-profile endorsees such as Jaromír Jágr, the player equipment lines were comparatively unsuccessful. The brand name is currently owned by MonkeySports, which operates GoalieMonkey.com and Hockeymonkey.com. They are the exclusive retailer of the brand.
Koho started manufacturing hockey sticks in the 1950s. By the mid 1970s they started making goaltending equipment. They were one of the first companies to produce team colored pro leather leg pads for goalies as early as 1976. In the 1980s Billy Smith, Grant Fuhr, Mario Gosselin, Kari Takko, and Mike Vernon were some of the NHL goalies to use the brand. That success made Koho the largest Finnish manufacturer in the 1980s.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Koho offered a line of goaltending equipment called Evolution. It was designed with former NHL goalie Bob Suave who at the time, worked for Koho. Arturs Irbe of the San Jose Sharks was well known for using this line of gear for many years and doing all the repairs himself.
Soon after the Evolution line of gear, the Revolution line was developed and made popular by goalies such as Patrick Roy and Felix Potvin. Later mid 90's versions of Koho goalie equipment were designed by goalie equipment maker Michel Lefebvre, who started with the 530 series, which were based on the pad which was sold previously under the Lefebvre brand. Lefebrve, contracted now to develop pads to be sold exclusively through the Koho brand, designed the 560, 570, 580 and 590 series. Beginning with the 560 series, Koho pads were designed exclusively by Lefebvre, and the equipment line was designed for the butterfly style of play. The 590 was the last pad that Patrick Roy wore during the 2002–03 season.
During the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the original plan was to have Roberto Luongo premiere the Koho 600 pad. However, as a result of the unexpected purchase of The Hockey Company by Reebok, Luongo appeared in the World Cup wearing 590s. When The Hockey Company was purchased by Reebok, the Koho name was momentarily dropped and replaced by Reebok, with the intent of eventually phasing out the Koho name from its main product line. The Hockey Company did so previously with the Heaton brand, and would eventually do the same with the CCM goalie brand. Koho was then delegated to a price-point street hockey goalie equipment set, featuring the graphic of the 570. However, on Reebok's first goalie equipment lines, including the RBK Premier and RBK Premier 2, a small tag with the Koho by Lefebvre logo remained, as the names Koho and Lefebvre still had (and continue to have) residual market value.
Initially, Rbk was used for the pro and intermediate pro lines of equipment, while Reebok was reserved for all other lines (senior, junior and youth). When Reebok discontinued the use of Rbk in 2008, the Rbk branding was dropped from the hockey equipment as well.
When the NHL resumed play in the 2005–06 season following the lockout, only one goaltender, Maxime Ouellet of the Vancouver Canucks, was using Koho equipment. Because the Koho name had been dropped by The Hockey Company, which consequently had not paid the NHL the appropriate licensing fees, the Koho name was not permitted to appear in a game or in any league or team media or promotional materials. Nonetheless, the Koho name remained on Ouellet's pads, which was an oversight by the league.
At the beginning of the 2007–08 season, Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks appeared in pre-season games in 580 leg pads, which were white and blue, matching the colors of his previous team, HC Davos. The Koho name had actually already been removed from Hiller's pads prior to the 2006 IIHF World Championships. By the start of the regular season, Hiller was wearing 580s in colors matching the Ducks' uniform colors. However, about halfway through the season, the logos were removed from his pads.
In 2008, GoalieMonkey.com managed to bring back the Koho name to the retail market at least, producing a set with the name Koho 700. The set included pads, blocker, glove, chest protector and a composite goal stick. None of these products were actually designed by Lefebvre, however. They were a pad designed for the hybrid goaltender, but nevertheless feel very similar to the Lefebvre Koho lines, minus the traditional shin rolls, which were never a feature of Lefebvre's design.
Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller began the 2008–09 season with 580s with no Koho logos. About halfway through the season, however, Hiller switched to a nearly identical pair of leg pads, this time featuring the Koho logos. This indicated that Monkey Sports, Inc. had successfully negotiated the licensing rights with the NHL, marking Koho's official return to the NHL. In 2009, rumors circulated that a new Koho pad, dubbed the "900" series, would be produced, in conjunction with Michel Lefebvre. At the start of the 2009–10 season, Hiller began play in his trademark 580s, along with a blocker and catching glove with custom Koho graphics, thus giving credence to earlier rumors of a new Koho pad. It was later revealed there was a new pad to match his blocker and catching glove but since Hiller had no time to break them in after receiving them after training camp, he stuck with his signature 580s. Hiller debuted the Koho 588 pad in the beginning of the 2010–11 season.
- "The Hockey Company profile" on Reference for Business
- HOCKEY STICK MAKER STRUGGLES IN NEWLY COMPETITIVE MARRKET, The New York Times, 15 March 1982