Apparently the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors were up to something this month as it was reported by Sportico on Tuesday that the Board unanimously approved ads on the front of NHL jerseys beginning with the 2022-23 season.
The ads will be no bigger than a 3-inch-by-3.5-inch rectangle, which is slightly larger than the ads featured on the front of National Basketball Association (NBA) jerseys.
It was only a matter of time before the NHL followed the NBA in generating additional revenue by doing what professional hockey leagues outside of North America have been doing for many years, as well as what’s been done for at least a few seasons now in the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL minor league levels on this side of the pond.
As always, hockey Twitter is taking the news well.
Let’s embrace the chaos for a moment and pick some sponsors for all 32 NHL teams that would make so much sense they’ll obviously be overlooked for, well, actual revenue generating streams instead.
What we want: Disney+ or TCL
What we’ll get: Honda
The Ducks play at Honda Center and, yeah, there’s really nothing besides Disney swooping in and sponsoring the team that they used to own as a means of cross promoting both the Ducks and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on Disney+, so we’re stuck with a Honda logo at center ice and on the front of Anaheim’s jerseys.
In any case, Honda’s red logo works pretty well with the Orange County orange featured as an accent color on Anaheim’s home and road jerseys.
NHL teams have a tendency to go back to the well with their partners– think of how many teams have either the same helmet sponsor as another team or just slapped on the same brand as their venue’s naming rights deal– but if we want to expand the playground a little bit perhaps TCL could be of interest for the Ducks.
Come to think of it, that’s probably a better option.
*Opens up Photoshop*
What we want: P.F. Chang’s or Cold Stone Creamery
What we’ll get: Fry’s or something, probably
Believe it or not the Los Angeles Chargers won’t be the only team tweeting about P.F. Chang’s for long as the restaurant chain was founded in 1993, and opened their first location in Scottsdale, Arizona, so it only makes sense to go back to their roots and toss an ad on the Coyotes’ jersey.
Also founded in Arizona– Cold Stone Creamery.
We figured that’d probably make sense on an AHL team’s jersey, though, despite the obvious cold ice, cold ice cream connection.
The Coyotes had Mountain America on their helmets at home and Dignity Health on their road helmets in 2020-21, so in reality we’ll probably get one of those two on the front of their jerseys in 2022-23.
What we want: Dunkin’ or bust
What we’ll get: TD Bank or O.R.G. Packaging, probably
What could possibly be more Boston than a Bruins jersey with a Dunkin’ logo on it?
Their AHL affiliate– the Providence Bruins– already play in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island and have a Dunkin’ ad patch on their jerseys. Why not call it up to the major league?
That said, with some NBA teams earning up to about $20 million in jersey ad space revenue, the B’s likely will reach for a brand with deeper pockets than doughnuts and coffee.
Delaware North likes their relationship with a certain bank from Toronto (TD Bank) and has had one of the league’s longest relationships with a Chinese company (O.R.G. Packaging) as part of the NHL’s intended growth beyond the continents of North America and Europe, so one of the two brands is more likely to appear on a Bruins jersey.
What we want: Super Chexx
What we’ll get: KeyBank
The Sabres could use some fun in their lives these days and you know what really helps put the mind at ease? Bubble hockey.
That’s right, Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc. (ICE)– the manufacturers of the popular bar and arcade classic, Super Chexx, that your rich friend down the street growing up also had in the comforts of their home– is based outside Buffalo and would be a match made in heaven right about now.
Especially as Sabres fans are looking for something to do while the game’s on TV.
So yeah, we’re definitely going to get KeyBank, Tim Horton’s or something else entirely instead.
What we want: WestJet or Duraflame
What we’ll get: Scotiabank
If you, as an American, can name any other Canadian airline other than Air Canada, then congratulations. If you can’t, then may I introduce you to WestJet?
WestJet’s headquarters are next to Calgary International Airport and it’d be nice to prove to the world that Canada is more than just a land of Tim Horton’s, Roots, Canadian Tire, Rogers, Scotiabank and Mr. Sub.
If Duraflame isn’t available, then you might as well dip into the low-cost airline industry as a means of attracting tourists to Banff National Park, Calgary Stampede or whatever it is that sets Calgary apart from the rest of Alberta (so… not being Edmonton).
What we want: Surge
What we’ll get: PNC, Diehard, maybe Cheerwine or something else
This should be obvious, but if you haven’t paid attention to the Hurricanes for at least the last few seasons now they do a “Storm Surge” celebration after every win on home ice in the regular season (and sometimes playoffs).
Surge (the soda) is one of those drinks that makes headlines every few years for being pulled straight out of the vault and placed back on grocery store shelves– speaking of which, does anyone know if it’s currently available?
If not, it’ll definitely be back by the 2022-23 season.
Yes, it’s hard to envision where an ad will be placed on the road jersey as the prime real estate is used up by the diagonal “CANES” letters and– for a few players– the captain’s “C” or alternate captain’s “A”.
What we want: Portillo’s
What we’ll get: United
Look, between Walgreens, Sears and Portillo’s there’s a few legendary brands that Chicago could partner with as their first jersey ad in franchise history (not including practice jerseys).
Obviously only one of the three mentioned above is the right choice and its the one that might lead you to Walgreens later if you have a weak stomach. Besides, Sears is fading from our collective memory whether it is out of business already or not.
Clark Griswold would be proud of Portillo’s proudly being displayed on a, well, if a WHL team can rebrand, so can you, Chicago.
What we want: Chipotle or Coors
What we’ll get: Ball
Look, whether or not Nathan MacKinnon eats Chipotle is a debate for another day, but one thing’s for sure– both Chipotle and MacKinnon started their careers in Colorado.
Though Coors or Coors Light would make more sense, we have to consider the fact that kids might be wearing these jerseys to the game and we haven’t heard whether or not the jerseys that are sold in the proshops in 2022-23 and beyond will include the front jersey ad or not.
If they do, then we probably can’t market beer to children.
I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that and it’s also the reason why all my 1:64 scale diecast Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. cars from when I was a kid said “Team Rusty” and “Dale Jr.” on them, respectively, instead of Miller Lite and Budweiser.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What we want: Wendy’s
What we’ll get: Nationwide
Coinciding with the uptick in Columbus born and raised players on the Blue Jackets roster, it would be a great idea to add Wendy’s– which was founded in Columbus in 1969– to the team in such a way that perhaps Jack Roslovic and Sean Kuraly star in local commercials to the Blue Jackets viewing area during the 2022-23 season.
I know that’s assuming Roslovic signs an extension, but the pending-restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season helped facilitate the Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine trade with the Winnipeg Jets by forcing Winnipeg into trading him to his hometown team.
Unlike several recent stars that left the city via free agency, Roslovic will stick around for the long term.
Especially if there’s some goods in kind involved with a Wendy’s sponsorship. I mean, I would at least.
What we want: Whataburger
What we’ll get: AT&T
Though Whataburger would be a welcome party in the burger wars when Columbus and Dallas would “meat” up, there’s no beef to be found in this hypothetical because AT&T has already made that decision for us.
Sometimes you just can’t think too hyperlocal and AT&T fetches a more national audience than a regional chain that primarily serves Texas.
Besides, if you go to Dallas for a Stars game, you can always just get Whataburger then. It’s not like they’re going to send you a meal with a jersey if ads are on the jerseys sold to fans in 2022-23.
Detroit Red Wings
What we want: Little Caesars
What we’ll get: Little Caesars
The last few teams have all involved food and we’re going to be stuck on this theme for at least one more team after this.
Both the Red Wings and Little Caesars are owned by the Ilitch family and if you think adding one more connection between Detroit and pizza is a bad thing then you clearly don’t understand the marketing behind this.
Kids love pizza. Adults love pizza. There’s a lot of good memories involving pizza.
Plus, with General Manager, Steve Yzerman, in charge, the Red Wings are on the rise, which will only further tap into the nostalgia from when Detroit was doing what the Tampa Bay Lightning are currently doing to the rest of the league.
What we want: Boston Pizza
What we’ll get: Rogers
Edmonton thought they could replicate the success Ken Holland had in Detroit by hiring Holland as their General Manager and when they see that we’ve got a pizza establishment heading for the front of the Red Wings’ jersey, then the Oilers will think it’s also a good idea to snag a slice.
That’s where Boston Pizza comes in.
Whether or not they’ll get Connor McDavid to do an ad read or be left with whatever scraps surround him on the Oilers roster remains to be seen.
In all likelihood, Rogers Communications will probably just get to slap their logo on another element of Edmonton’s brand.
What we want: Royal Caribbean International
What we’ll get: Baptist Health or something
The Blockbuster guy (the late Wayne Huizenga) founded the team and almost named them the “Florida Block Busters”, so it’d be neat to incorporate an homage to the days of Blockbuster (rest in peace) with the almost Blockbuster-like colors of Royal Caribbean International on the jersey.
Plus, who among us hasn’t uttered the words “I need a vacation from my vacation” before?
If you’re an out of town fan visiting the Panthers in Florida or watching the Panthers come to your town— there’s a cruise line for you even if you wouldn’t go remotely near a cruise before the ongoing pandemic began.
Los Angeles Kings
What we want: Dollar Shave Club
What we’ll get: Anschutz Entertainment Group
Never doubt for a second that a team owner wouldn’t give up the chance to toot their own horn, which is why it’s quite possible that one of the world’s biggest entertainment entities would slap their own logo on the front of a Kings jersey.
If you’re not able to finagle a way to write things off as a deduction, then Dollar Shave Club presents a unique opportunity despite the fact that shaving isn’t something that’s in Drew Doughty’s vernacular (or any hockey player, for that matter, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around).
Manscaped could also make a run here and in any case, fine.
What we want: Target or General Mills
What we’ll get: Xcel Energy
When you think of Minnesota what’s the first thing you think about?
That’s right, the very place where you could be standing right now reading this while you’re waiting for a cash register to open up or aimlessly perusing the aisles for those impulse purchases you somehow always make at Target.
It fits the Wild color scheme well and if we’re not going to get General Mills involved then at least getting more than the standard 5% discount for having a Target RedCard via goods in kind might be enough to convince Kirill Kaprizov to stay in Minnesota long-term.
What we want: CCM and/or Molson
What we’ll get: Bell
CCM makes more than just jerseys, but it’s not like adidas would be just fine with a CCM logo appearing on the front of an adidas ADIZERO jersey.
So, we’re left with two obvious choices– Molson or Bell.
If there’s nothing against a Canadian team bearing an alcoholic beverage on the front of their jersey with the potential for that brand to be marketed towards kids, then perhaps Molson– whose family ties own the Habs– might make an appearance near the crest.
That or we’ll just get more airtime for Bell. Either way, Montréal would be attractive enough as a franchise to bring in more than one jersey ad sponsor if the league doesn’t have any specific rules outside of the size of the ad.
What we want: Curb Records or CMT
What we’ll get: Fifth Third Bank
The music city could attract a music label if they wanted to, but Fifth Third Bank loves investing in Nashville for some reason– like, a lot, despite being headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and primarily serving Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida more than all of Tennessee.
In any case, good for the Predators. They’ll have some deep pockets to reach into while other teams surely will have to squabble for seven figures related to the going rate for the prime ad space.
Still feels like we’d be missing out on a sweet Curb Records patch close enough to the guitar pick on the right shoulder though.
New Jersey Devils
What we want: Honestly, just Prudential is fine
What we’ll get: Prudential
The Devils are overlooked and let’s admit it, you couldn’t think of something distinctly New Jersey either– besides not being allowed to fill your own gas tank.
Bruce Springsteen is not sponsoring the Devils alone.
Whether it’s settling on an old reliable or simply making use of what’s trustworthy and already available, Prudential and New Jersey just seem like a good fit.
New York Islanders
What we want: Gorton’s
What we’ll get: Not Gorton’s
“We want fishsticks!”
O.K., you got them. Take that, Rangers fans. The Islanders are cool now because they’re steering into the skid.
They just won’t go as far as bringing back the fisherman jersey from the dead, but alas, they’ll show a spark of creativity and even crack a smile on Lou Lamoriello’s face with the real Gorton’s fisherman making an appearance on the jersey.
Obviously this will never happen.
New York Rangers
What we want: Liberty Mutual if they’re bringing back the “Lady Liberty” jerseys as an alternate
What we’ll get: Chase for sure, maybe New York Life too
Liberty Mutual (a Boston company) on the “Lady Liberty” jersey would be a sight to see, but New York will never let it happen.
Instead, Chase, which already has quite a great partnership with the team, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, etc. will likely just step up and foot the bill for one– if not all– of the jerseys in full.
That’s fine. The Rangers will suffer the same consequences of having a diagonal wordmark on their jersey like Carolina’s road jersey, but at least New York’s pretty much always been this way so they should have some ideas of how to work around that.
What we want: Canada Post
What we’ll get: Bell, Scotiabank or Canadian Tire
Canada’s capital city gets the honor of having Canada Post on their jerseys because it breaks up the trend of having the same three or four companies sponsoring all seven Canadian teams (like how their helmets were for 2020-21).
In reality, we’ll probably get more of the same from the Sens and either Bell, Canadian Tire or Scotiabank will make an appearance on Ottawa’s jersey.
At the very least, Canada’s postal service sponsoring a team is more economically viable than the United States Postal Service sponsoring a team.
What we want: Wawa or Audacy
What we’ll get: Comcast or GlaxoSmithKline
Remember how I said you don’t want to go too local for a jersey ad? Well, Wawa on a Flyers jersey is an exception.
That said, it probably wouldn’t have the staying power to work on a road jersey too, so Philadelphia could tap into the artist formerly known as Entercom, since rebanded as Audacy, for more.
Audacy maintained their Philadelphia headquarters and covers a broad range of Internet radio, digital content, regular radio and podcasting platforms, plus their logo is orange which fits the Flyers brand.
It’s either that or Comcast will slap their own logo on the jersey or something.
What we want: Duolingo
What we’ll get: PPG Industries
Duolingo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and as a website and mobile app, every sports league with ads on jerseys needs at least one that makes you scratch your head at first before realizing the connection between the company and the city.
The dating app, Bumble, once was featured on the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers jerseys prior to the Clippers replacing Bumble with their more jersey ad with the online browser extension coupon company, Honey.
Dating and living expenses in Los Angeles are probably harder than learning a few new languages through Duolingo, so combining Duolingo with the Penguins makes perfect sense since hockey players can come from all over and speak many languages.
Besides, it might give your team an advantage if they can communicate with one another in a setting that is more comfortable for them.
St. Louis Blues
What we want: Busch
What we’ll get: Enterprise
I know we’ve been over the whole “can they market beer to kids with these jerseys” thing, but St. Louis is the city of Anheuser-Busch, so it’s only fitting that the Blues get a jersey ad that 1) is Anheuser-Busch related and 2) works with their color palette.
If Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals play in Busch Stadium and get Budweiser by default with red as a primary color for the ball club, then the Blues naturally get Busch blue and Busch beer. I don’t make the rules.
Plus Midwesterners really like the stuff.
San Jose Sharks
What we want: Adobe
What we’ll get: SAP or Zoom
Look, we weren’t going to get away with making these in Photoshop and not having to give Adobe something— and with headquarters in San Jose it only made sense.
The Sharks have a deep relationship with SAP, though, so it’s more likely than not that the team will just go further with the brand that also is featured on their helmets at home and holds the current naming rights for SAP Center.
Plus with the uptick in the use of Zoom, San Jose could double-dip and match SAP on the home jersey with SAP stickers on their helmets with Zoom covering the road set (jersey ad and helmet ads).
What we want: Boeing
What we’ll get: Alaska Airlines
The Kraken already have a deal with Alaska Airlines as the official airline of the franchise, but what’s bigger than an airline itself?
That’s right, Boeing, the company that makes a lot of planes and other aerospace stuff, was founded in Seattle and still has a major presence in Washington as the largest private employer in the state.
Want to see your newest expansion team take flight? Just add some Boeing engineering to the jerseys.
You might have thought Microsoft would make sense for a Seattle-based team, but the league’s agreement with Apple probably puts a quick end to that.
Tampa Bay Lightning
What we want: Accusoft
What we’ll get: DEX Imaging
Every sport with ads on jerseys has that one company that nobody’s really sure what they do, but they appreciate that they’re spending their money on their favorite team.
That just might be Accusoft’s relationship with the Lightning come time for ads on jerseys in 2022-23.
The private computer software company is headquartered in Tampa and was founded back in 1991, as Pegasus Imaging– one year prior to the Lightning’s debut season as an NHL team in 1992-93.
Toronto Maple Leafs
What we want: Swiss Chalet, Sun Life Financial
What we’ll get: Scotiabank, Sun Life Financial
Scotiabank already has a stronghold on Toronto both financially and in the sense that the Maple Leafs play inside Scotiabank Arena and proudly display Scotiabank’s logo on their helmets, so it seems inevitable that Scotiabank would also make an appearance on the Leafs jersey.
But Toronto is strong enough to maximize the value of a 3-by-3.5-inch ad and capitalize on the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) brand.
MLSE already has an agreement with Sun Life Financial on their NBA team’s jerseys and the Toronto Raptors were able to go on to win their first championship in 2019.
Perhaps the key to ending the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup drought lies within attracting Sun Life Financial to an NHL jersey ad.
What we want: Hootsuite
What we’ll get: Rogers
Remember when you’d see Hootsuite on just about every tweet with a photo? Am I the only one imagining that?
In any case, Hootsuite was founded and is based in Vancouver and still plays a major role in social media management for brands.
Whereas Rogers is accessible to most every day Canadians, Hootsuite would be more of a “corporate” target audience and you need sponsors at all levels to attract a wide base of potential clients, fans, etc.
That said, the Canucks have had a long relationship with Rogers in that they play in Rogers Arena, so it’s probably going to be Rogers.
Vegas Golden Knights
What we want: Zappos.com
What we’ll get: MGM Resorts International or Allegiant Air
Want to have fun with a local Nevada brand? Zappos is the way to go!
Want to be realistic and attract out of town fans to a destination like Las Vegas? MGM Resorts International is your sponsor and with Allegiant Air as an ultra-low cost airline that’ll gladly bring you to Vegas for a Golden Knights game…
Yeah, it’s inevitable that between MGM and Vegas’ current road helmet sponsor (Allegiant) that there’d quickly be no room for a company like Zappos.
Credit One Bank is on the home helmets for the Golden Knights, so don’t be surprised if they’re a wild card for a jersey ad too.
What we want: Marriott International
What we’ll get: Capital One, Custom Ink
Sportswriters rejoice! Your Marriott points may soon reward you with a Capitals jersey or something like that.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Marriott International would make sense from a local and international brand recognition stance.
But you know what we’re probably going to get instead? Sheer confusion as Capital One places an ad on front of a jersey that already says “Washington Capitals”. The Capital One Washington Capitals– live at Capital One Arena!
Either that or Caps owner, Ted Leonsis, might like to make a connection between making custom jerseys for local adult league co-ed softball teams or something and, well, Custom Ink’s logo appearing on Capitals jerseys.
What we want: A&W or SkipTheDishes
What we’ll get: Canada Life or Bell
A&W was founded in Winnipeg, while SkipTheDishes is headquartered in Winnipeg.
Since it’s 2021, and not 1956, we’re more than likely to see SkipTheDishes on a Jets jersey, but if their helmet ads from 2020-21 are any indication for 2022-23 and beyond, then Bell is probably going to land a spot near Winnipeg’s crest.
Canada Life is taking over as the new naming rights holder for Canada Life Centre where the Jets play, so there’s always a chance they’ll end up with their logo on the front of the jersey too.