How Pro Net Sports became the official net supplier to the NHL

It started as a side project. Now Pro Net Sports’ $2,000 hockey nets stand guard on every NHL rink

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Pro-Net hockey net

(Raina + Wilson)

NHL Supplier: Pro Net Sports
 Mississauga, Ont.
Established: 1998
No. of employees: 6

Bob Rae began stringing hockey nets in the 1950s to sell in his Scarborough, Ont., sporting goods store. Having worked as a fisherman in Scotland, Rae (no relation to the politician) knew his way around ropes, and his nets were of exceptional quality, good enough to land a marquee client: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rae and his son Gary continued to make them by hand in the basement until the late 1990s, when Gary’s wife, Christine, suggested they turn the part-time vocation into a full-time enterprise. She packed up samples and worked her way down the NHL roster. “I used to deliver them myself,” she says.

Today, Pro Net supplies all 30 NHL teams (a single net costs $1,300 to $2,000), with Rae personally making sure her clients get exactly what they need, when they need it. She recalls a drive by Nashville Predator sniper Shea Weber at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics that passed through the webbing. “It was quarter to 10 at night, and my phone started ringing,” she says.

In fact, the advent of high-definition broadcasts and in-net cameras has upped the ante for Pro Net. All the details—from grommets to stains—are visible, which means Pro Net has had to be more attentive to small imperfections. “I don’t watch the game anymore,” Rae says. “I watch the net.”