The Panthers have the hottest piece of merchandise in hockey: a blue hoodie with actor Kevin Spacey’s face floating among the stars. The sweatshirt became popular at the start of Florida’s 12-game win streak and fans bought up all 150 hoodies available for purchase at Tuesday’s game.
One of the hottest pieces of merchandise in hockey right now doesn’t look at all like something that would be sold by any team in the NHL. Yet, somehow, a blue hoodie with a photo of Kevin Spacey’s face — yes, that Kevin Spacey — floating in space is becoming an item so hot the Florida Panthers sold all 150 they had in stock at last night’s game.
The bizarre sweatshirt became popular after it was spotted on Aleksander Barkov following a Panthers win and was subsequently posted to Twitter with the hashtag #SpaceyInSpace. Fans chimed in saying they wanted the hoodie, and the odd sight of Spacey’s face on Barkov’s clothing started spreading around social media.
The hoodie gained even more steam as the Panthers proceeded to go on a 12-game win streak after Spacey’s face first popped up in the dressing room. It was even brought up at Barkov’s press conference to announce his new six-year deal.
“When we got that Spacey jersey we won 12 in a row right away,” Barkov said Tuesday. “I can’t tell you why we got that jersey, but it’s a pretty funny thing.” Barkov joked he and Spacey are friends and they share an agent.
Just as many teams in the league have belts or trophies for the team-named MVP following a victory, it seems as though the Spacey In Space sweater is exactly that for the Panthers. But unlike other team-issued post-win awards, fans can now own their own Spacey In Space shirt.
The Panthers store, Pantherland, put replicas of the hoodie up for sale ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Demand was so high that the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov reported 100 of the 150 in stock sold before the puck was even dropped, and the Miami Herald’s George Richards said all 150 were gone by the time the game was over.
Outside of the Panthers dressing room, no one really knows the meaning behind the sweatshirt. However, Spacey himself chimed in about the Panthers’ wearing his face, saying only he “really (knows) what #SpaceyInSpace means,” after Barkov told reporters that no one really knew the meaning.
While it may seem like a way for the Panthers to cash in on their recent success, Florida is actually using the popularity of the sweater to raise money for two separate foundations. The $40 sale of the hoodie is divided between the Florida Panthers Foundation, which offers grants and supports community programs, and the Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers grants, scholarships and learning projects for students.
Fialkov said Pantherland plans to have the sweater back in stock Wednesday evening for fans looking to get their hands on one of the strangest pieces of hockey-related merchandise to hit shelves this season.