Following my prediction from October 29, 2008, Easton has officially thrown itself into lacrosse. Inside Lacrosse reported early today that Easton-Bell Sports has acquired Talon Lacrosse creating a new Easton Lacrosse division. Even though it is a different company than I had mentioned in my original post, Easton followed the path I anticipated by purchasing a small, established company known for producing high quality lacrosse equipment.
Combining Talon's expertise with Easton's technology and production capability will result in superb equipment at competitive prices. This gear will no doubt be more readily available than Talon's current offerings. Expect Easton Lacrosse equipment at Great Atlantic Lacrosse, Lacrosse Monkey, and other large retailers as early as this fall.
This move definitely signifies the current growth of lacrosse may be just the tip of the iceberg. With another large multi-sport multi-national corporation entering the fray, expect to see increased exposure at all levels and a broadening of the professional game. Easton's move should increase the pressure to make Major League Lacrosse and/or the National Lacrosse League into more than vehicles to advertise New Balance (Warrior, Brine) and Reebok products, respectively. With all of the major players in the four "American" sports (hockey, baseball, football, and basketball) now in the mix, there is too much money to be made to allow the professional game to wallow the way New Balance has.
My biggest question revolves around Easton's corporate sibling, Riddell (former makers of Onyx lacrosse gear). Both are owned by Fenway Partners; keeping both brands active in the sport seems unnecessary. Although the Onyx line of equipment died, the Riddell helmets continue to be worn primarily by schools wearing Adidas. The helmets are regarded as one of the ugliest and bulkiest in the game. With the success of the Stealth helmet in hockey (I have one and love it, BTW) and the reset opportunity this move provides, I have a hard time believing that Easton will not jump a chance for a new lid. An subtly edgy design that incorporates the classic grace of Cascade's popular helmets - similar to the Stealth - adorned with the familiar diamond logo could be an instant success.
I will definitely be interested to see the new products as they roll out. Given the bad blood between Easton and Warrior following the formation of the latter's hockey division, things could get interesting as lax continues to grow. Easton will no doubt open their pockets to give New Balance a run for their money. And they have the name and reputation to do it.