How Sani Sport uses ozone to de-stinkify the NHL’s smelliest gear

Montreal-based Sani Sport started out with hockey, but has branched out to homeland security

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Sani Sport hockey gear sanitizer

(Raina + Wilson)

NHL Supplier: Sani Sport
Location: Montreal
Established: 2001
Cost of top-of-the line gear sanitizer: $20,000

A dozen years ago, Steve Silver was running a skate-sharpening firm when he noticed he was getting a lot of queries about smelly gear. After reading up, he learned that bad odours indicated the presence of potentially lethal bacteria. Silver spent the next several years developing his fridge-size cleaner, which uses ozone—3,000 times more powerful than bleach—to disinfect team equipment. “We obviously wanted to perfect the technology before we approached the NHL,” he says.

Silver’s first sale was to the Buffalo Sabres in 2006; today, Sani Sport sells to 27 of the NHL’s 30 teams. Most have one or two units—they range in price from $8,000 to $20,000—and each is large enough to hold two players’ gear at once. The cycle takes 12 minutes. The units are built to last, so Silver can only grow by expanding. “We now supply to the military, police forces, U.S. homeland security and health care,” he says, but hockey remains the core. Silver loves dealing with the NHL’s down-to-earth equipment managers: “There’s no dirty laundry, if you pardon the pun.”