After allowing small ads on helmets last season, NHL owners have approved the next logical step: small advertising patches on jerseys.
According to a report from Sportico, the ads have been approved for the 2022-23 season, so won’t appear in the coming season. The ads must fit inside a 3 inch by 3.5 inch rectangle, making them slightly larger than the ads allowed on NBA jerseys. That’s understandable, as hockey jerseys are bigger than basketball jerseys as they need to fit bulky shoulder pads underneath them.
Advertising on jerseys represents another revenue stream for the NHL, which is more dependent on gate revenue — ticket sales and in-person merchandise sales at games — than other major North American leagues.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claimed that the NHL “retained” over $100 million in new revenue from new sponsorship inventory during the 2020-21 season, which would include helmet ads. Some of those sponsorship dollars won’t last, such as ads that covered empty seats with no fans allowed in the building. Ads on jerseys could be a lucrative new source of revenue.
"It would take a lot, a lot, a lot of money."
For traditionalists, it’s a worst-case scenario: advertising will befoul the hallowed hockey sweater, enshrined in Canadian culture with the classic short story, “The Hockey Sweater,” and held up as sacred by those who insist, “It’s not a jersey, it’s a hockey sweater.”
Previously, Bettman was resistant to allowing ads on jerseys for exactly this reason.
“The history, tradition and respect that goes with NHL sweaters is something we and Adidas are very respectful of. We like our jerseys a lot and we think our fans do as well,” said Bettman back in 2015. “We certainly won’t be the first [to allow advertising]. You’d have to drag me kicking and screaming. It would take a lot, a lot, a lot of money.”
Presumably, NHL teams will be getting a lot, a lot, a lot of money.
It’s worth noting that hockey jerseys already have several ads on them: logos for the NHL and whichever company made the jersey — Adidas, CCM, Reebok, or Fanatics — as well as the logo for the team itself. In many ways, when a fan dons a jersey, they are advertising the team to those who see them.
An advertising patch is a little different, of course, as it’s an ad for a company that is not directly connected to the team or the production of the jersey, unlike the other corporate logos.
While the ads may concern some fans, the NHL is still a long way from European leagues where advertising logos seemingly cover every spare inch of fabric on a hockey player’s uniform. The economics of many European leagues are massively removed from the economics of an NHL team, so it’s exceedingly unlikely that NHL jerseys would ever get to that point.
It’s also worth noting that the advertising may not extend to jerseys sold to the public. Striking a deal to add a logo to a jersey worn during a game is one thing — it would likely be far more expensive for a company to make a deal that extends to jerseys sold to fans. Jerseys sold by the NBA, for example, do not have advertising on them despite teams wearing advertising during games.
The worst possible options for a Canucks jersey sponsor
Last season, the Canucks added the Rogers Communications logo to their helmets. Rogers also owns the naming rights to the Canucks’ home arena, as well as broadcasting rights for Canucks games on Sportsnet, so that was an easy addition given the tight time constraints between allowing ads and the start of the season.
So, who could the Canucks get to sponsor their jerseys in the 2022-23 season? There are plenty of big-name local companies who would make sense for the Canucks. But while there are plenty of good options for the Canucks, there are many more terrible options.
When asked who would be the worst company/brand to advertise on a Canucks jersey, fans had plenty of suggestions.
One of the first responses was also one of the most subtly brilliant ones. Lay’s potato chips are a fine, if unspectacular, chip but for Canucks fans, they’re irrevocably connected to the most hated player in franchise history, Mark Messier, because of a series of ads in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Yeah, it’s probably best to keep Lay’s away from Canucks jerseys.
Several people suggested Boston Pizza would be the worst option, which is understandable. While their owner, Jim Treliving, makes his home in Vancouver, Canucks fans definitely don’t want “Boston” anywhere near their jerseys.
Ouch. That’s just hurtful.
For those in the know, this is hilarious.
Essentially, someone made the deranged claim that TSN — the Canadian sports network — is owned by Tyson Foods, an American corporation that primarily sells chicken. It was a massive conspiracy theory that Tyson Foods was influencing Canadian sports media to be negative about the Canucks for undetermined reasons.
The entire conspiracy evidently hinged on the fact that Tyson Foods is “TSN” on the New York Stock Exchange.
Truly a great moment in Canucks Twitter history.
Riot Games creates video games, including the massively popular League of Legends. The Canucks’ owners also happen to own a professional esports team, the Vancouver Titans, though they play Overwatch and not League of Legends.
Still, the Canucks clearly are open to esports and video games, so why not partner with Riot Games?
Oh wait. Riot. Right.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with promoting safe sex.
For those not aware, Condom Depot sponsored several MMA fighters in the late 2000's and clips and pictures from many UFC fights see the website emblazoned on their backsides.
Another subtly brilliant suggestion, Northland Properties is the company owned by Tom Gaglardi, who attempted to purchase the Canucks in 2004. Gaglardi was once business partners with the Aquilini family, but a high-profile legal battle ensued between the two over ownership of the Canucks that went all the way to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, who ruled in favour of the Aquilinis.
Perhaps it would be fitting if Gaglardi, who now owns the Dallas Stars, could finally own a small 3"x3.5" piece of the Canucks.
Speaking of the Aquilinis, Golden Eagle Farms is one of the more controversial holdings of the Aquilini Investment Group because of allegations of poor working conditions by migrant workers.
“Golden Eagles” was also one of the proposed names for the Canucks’ AHL affiliate before they landed on the Abbotsford Canucks.
Let’s just say that some Canucks fans are still a little bitter about Bell pulling the plug on TSN 1040 and turning it into “Funny 1040 AM.”
Let’s agree to disagree. This would be an amazing sponsor for the Canucks jerseys.
The genital grooming company already sponsors seemingly every single podcast — why not expand to advertising on hockey jerseys?
Everyone can agree that Kraken Spiced Rum would be an amazing company to advertise on Seattle Kraken jerseys but probably not on the jerseys of their closest geographical rival.
This would have been a perfect sponsor for the Canucks’ Reverse Retro gradient jerseys, which bore a striking resemblance to an old Sprite can.
Finally, here’s a suggestion for one of the best uses of advertising on jerseys: making it specific to certain players.
Suddenly, “fourth-line grinder” takes on new meaning.