In case you missed it yesterday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with the media for his annual "state of the union address" prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and while Bettman mostly addressed questions about the league's officiating and about next season's schedule, he was asked specifically about the possibility of helmet and jersey ads for the 2021-22 season.
Bettman had good news and bad news, so to speak.
The good news is that jersey advertisements are not planned for next season. The bad news is that helmet ads will in fact return for next seasons. The worse news is that Bettman and the NHL haven't ruled out jersey ads in 2022-23 and beyond.
I've got to say that if the NHL does indeed to put ads on the jerseys that personally I will never buy another jersey again. In fact, I'll think long and hard about spending money on t-shirts, hats, etc. as well.
The Athletic's Sean Shapiro reported just last week that some NHL executives are excited to push jersey ads in the future.
“I would think that’s the logical next step,” one NHL executive confirmed to Shapiro last week.
The NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman had been resistant in the past when it came to selling advertisements on jerseys or player equipment. But the financial shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to get creative when it comes to revenue, opening the door to helmet ads this past season. Now, the league apparently has its sights set on jersey ads.
“I can’t wait to sell ads on the jerseys,” one team executive told Shapiro. “I’m not supposed to sound that excited about it, but it really is a huge opportunity for us as a sport to start trying to get back to some financial normalcy after 2020.”
Call me a traditionalist or a purist, but personally I HATE this idea. Between television commercials, ads on the boards, ads on the ice and live ads read aloud literally DURING the game... enough already. I don't need more corporate BS shoved down my throat when I'm just trying to watch a hockey game.
Even worse is the thought of having ads placed on jerseys though, something that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has historically been against but an idea that is now on the table given the tough financial circumstances the NHL finds itself in. Back in 2017 Bettman went on record saying, "It would take an unusual circumstance for us to even think about it," when asked about putting ads on jerseys. Well... I would argue that 2020-21 and the COVID-19 pandemic qualify as "unusual circumstances."
Recently, Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman suggested that the players themselves could be the impetus for getting ads on jerseys as a way of generating more income during a difficult financial year.
Check it out:
If I was a player, I’d be talking about expanded playoffs and ads on jerseys. Bettman has said in the past the number has got to be worth it. Something small in a corner but enough that you know it’s there. No more of this it’s tradition… It’s time. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast
I have to say... if the NHL does elect to put ads on jerseys, no matter how small or how tastefully they may be done, I will 100% NEVER buy an NHL jersey again. Call me crazy, but I support the team not Toyota, Tim Hortons, McDonald's, Bell, Rogers or any other corporate sponsor.
For what it's worth the NBA allows small advertisements on their jerseys and so far 19 of the 30 teams in the league have partnered with sponsors to place ads on their jerseys. As an example it's believed the Golden State Warriors are receiving $60 million to include this small Rakuten ad on their upper left chest.
Source: Sean Shapiro · Photo Credit: Zuma Press