NHL Jersey Sponsorships: Picking a Fitting Sponsor for Each NHL Club
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
The NBA has said that it is about to explore sponsorship on its uniforms, much the same way it's done in auto racing and European soccer.
It's just a matter of time before the NBA starts selling sponsorships, and the NHL and the other sports leagues will follow.
Teams will be looking for well-heeled and appropriate sponsors so they can get an association with a classy product or service.
We are not under such constraints. However, we are looking for the right corporate sponsors for each team, and here's our take.
Sponsor slogans can be found at Crews.org.
New Jersey Devils: Target Corporation
The Devils are a try-hard team that is almost always in the playoffs and is capable of having a great run like they did this past playoff spring when they got to the Stanley Cup Finals.
However, the Devils are operating under a financial handicap and don’t have the wherewithal of some of their competitors. When you go to Target, you don’t have to spend a lot to get everything.
Their slogan applies nicely to the Devils. “Expect More. Pay Less.”
New York Islanders: Rite-Aid
Rite-Aid is a national chain, but it has the feel of an around-the-corner drug store. You go to it for whatever products you need, and you never give it another thought. Just like the Islanders.
Despite a glorious past that includes a memorable dynasty in the 1980s, you really don’t give the Islanders another thought.
New York Rangers: Citigroup
The Rangers like to throw money at all their issues. They proved they like to venture into free agency when they signed Brad Richards last year, and they made a big move when they traded for Rick Nash this summer.
Glen Sather likes high-priced talent. Citigroup, with its “Live Richly” slogan, is the perfect corporate sponsor.
Philadelphia Flyers: American Express
The Flyers are one of the most visible and powerful franchises in the NHL. They have usually been a contending team that almost always makes the playoffs.
However, they have not won the Stanley Cup since their back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and ’75. That’s a long time ago. The American Express slogan is “Do More,” and that’s what the Flyers need to do.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Nike
When you look at the Pittsburgh Penguins on paper, they are are a remarkable group of players, and head coach Dan Bylsma just has to harness that talent for them to get near the top.
It’s just a matter of working hard and following the Nike slogan of “Just Do It.” As long as they stay healthy, there’s no stopping this team.
Boston Bruins: E.F. Hutton
The Bruins have a huge footprint around the league. They have been one of the most consistent teams in all of professional sports since the expansion era began in 1967-68. While the Stanley Cup championships have been rare (1970, 1972 and 2011), when Bruins ownership or management takes a stand, the rest of the league takes notice.
Just like the famed slogan, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
The statement may come from owner Jeremy Jacobs, general manager Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien or captain Zdeno Chara. The hockey world pays attention.
Buffalo Sabres: Verizon
Since Terry Pegula took over as the Sabres’ owner, there has been a new optimism surrounding the franchise that financial issues would not prevent the Sabres from getting the players they need to become contenders.
Of course, it takes more than money to become successful. You need talented players, and Verizon’s slogan applies to the Sabres: “Making progress every day.”
Montreal Canadiens: Hilton Hotels
The Hilton Hotels are associated with being at the top of the food chain in the hotel business and have been for a long time. That reputation may no longer be deserved, as other hotels have caught up to them in quality and customer service, but there is still something magical about the name.
The same thing applies to the Montreal Canadiens, the pre-eminent and most glorious of all the NHL franchises. They are the dominant team in terms of championships (24), even though they have not won one since 1993.
If you can grab a cab in Montreal and say “take me to the Bell Centre,” it will make for a magical night and create the same kind of electricity as if you said “take me to the Hilton.”
Ottawa Senators: Honda
The Senators were a typical expansion team before they climbed the ladder and became a solid team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. The Senators then lost their way before starting to climb up the hill again.
They still have faith in themselves, and when they close their eyes, they see the Stanley Cup. They are depending on Honda’s slogan, “The Power of Dreams” to keep them moving forward.
Toronto Maple Leafs; J.C. Penney
The Maple Leafs command attention throughout Canada, and they are one of the most valuable franchises in the league. However, when it comes to achievement on the ice, it’s been a long time since the Maple Leafs wrapped themselves in glory. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since the last pre-expansion season of 1966-67, and they are not close.
J.C. Penney is a huge company that nearly all consumers are familiar with. However, they are known for quantity and size and not quality. Much like the Leafs.
Carolina Hurricanes: Johnson & Johnson
The Hurricanes have had their moments, but they have lacked consistency over the years. The Hurricanes won the 2006 Stanley Cup, but then failed to make the playoffs the next two seasons. They got to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 and did not make playoff appearances the next three seasons.
General manager Jim Rutherford took a new tack in the offseason, acquiring Jordan Staal from the Pittsburgh Penguins to join brother Eric Staal. Like Johnson & Johnson, the Hurricanes have become a family affair.
Florida Panthers: Mitsubishi
What does this Japanese manufacturing and auto giant have to do with a south Florida Hockey team?
Look at the progress it has made with Dale Tallon fronting the franchise. Tallon has given it a solid roster. It is stronger than it was, matching Mitsubishi’s slogan: “Better Built, Better Backed.”
Tampa Bay Lightning: Nintendo
The Lightning had a tough year, but when you look at their roster, they are loaded with superstars. Steven Stamkos is at the top, and he is followed closely by Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier. They also have a top young defenseman in Victor Hedman.
All these players are great natural talents, and they are “Born To Play.”
Washington Capitals: U.S. Postal Service
The Caps represent the nation’s capital, so we give them an affiliation with a government entity. The U.S. Postal Service is a struggling entity, yet they have a rather grandiose slogan in “Fly Like An Eagle.”
The U.S. Postal Service is closer to being grounded than taking off, and the same can be said for Alex Ovechkin and Co.
Winnipeg Jets: McDonald's
Perhaps the world’s largest chain restaurant would want to be associated with a much bigger and more significant franchise than the Winnipeg Jets. However, the Jets are all about the joy of having a franchise and the reaction of a grateful fanbase.
Any time you look at the crowd in Winnipeg, you see people whose faces match the McDonald’s slogan of “I’m loving it.”
Chicago Blackhawks; IBM
The Blackhawks have been brought into the modern era by owner Rocky Wirtz. Ever since he took over running the franchise following the death of Bill Wirtz, Rocky has tried to bring the Blackhawks into the league’s forefront by eschewing the team’s old-school practices and using modern techniques.
He certainly got results, as the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. However, it’s now time for Wirtz to get the Hawks back to the winner’s circle. It’s demanded by the Hawks fans, and it's an “on-demand business.”
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ohio State Football
The Blue Jackets need to stay away from the national corporations, and they need to wrap themselves in the flag of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Specifically, if they can associate themselves with the Ohio State football program, they will raise their image, and that will give them a greater chance to establish themselves with the local fans. The Blue Jackets are still struggling to establish themselves, so they must make themselves part of the local culture.
Detroit Red Wings: General Mills
No, it’s not a misprint. It’s not supposed to be General Motors just because the Red Wings and the auto giant are both located in Detroit.
The Red Wings should have the cereal manufacturer as their jersey sponsor because the company’s slogan fits the team. The Red Wings have been the NHL’s best and most consistent team for nearly 20 years, so the slogan “The Company of Champions” fits them perfectly.
Nashville Predators; FedEx
This is a regional affiliation, and it is one that the Predators should be proud of.
FedEx has a reputation of a hard-working and well-organized company, and so do the Predators. The company’s slogan—“Relax, It’s FedEx”—fits the team as well. The Predators are known for coming with an honest effort every night, and that makes them a good match for the shipping giant.
St. Louis Blues: Weight Watchers
You may look at St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock and think we want to tie his weight problems and battles to the famed weight-loss company. It would actually work, but the Weight Watchers' slogan applied to what the Blues were able to accomplish last year.
The Blues came from out of nowhere to become the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The remarkable transformation met nicely with the Weight Watchers’ slogan of “Watch Yourself Change.”
Calgary Flames: Ford
It’s hard to find a slogan that underlines a company’s mediocrity, because that’s the kind of franchise the Flames have become. However, Jay Feaster has dreams and plans for the future, just as any general manager would.
Ford’s slogan—Built For The Road Ahead—has to be the trademark for the Flames because the recent past and the present does not look good. If they can make one or two moves with veteran players, the road ahead may be much brighter.
Colorado Avalanche: Pepsi
The Avalanche have had success since moving from Quebec City in 1995. It’s a good thing, because the Denver-area sports fans have plenty of other places to spend their hard-earned cash. The Broncos will always be the No. 1 team in the region, and there is also a lot of loyalty to baseball’s Rockies.
The Avalanche have to compete with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. Pepsi doesn’t get its share of the market because it is more well-known than its primary competitor, Coca-Cola. Pepsi does well because of the taste of its product.
The same holds for the Avalanche. They must perform well to meet expectations.
Edmonton Oilers: Rolls Royce
This may seem a bit over the top, since Rolls Royce is often seen as the No. 1 automobile. However, the Oilers are trying to emulate what Rolls Royce delivers. They have been using their high draft picks to gain a boatload of talent. Once that talent matures, they should be able to move to the upper regions of the league.
That’s not a place that the Oilers are unfamiliar with being. When they had Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier leading the way, the Oilers had perhaps the most explosive and exciting team in NHL history. Rolls Royce’s slogan is “Trusted to Deliver Excellence,” and Oiler fans are trusting management to deliver the same thing.
Minnesota Wild: Canon
The camera company’s slogan is “Know How.” That’s the same thing that Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher tried to show he had when he signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in free agency this summer.
That know-how when it came to signing free agents has created a new level of interest and expectations with the Minnesota Wild. They are now in a position to put a better team on the ice this season than they have ever had before.
Vancouver Canucks: General Electric
The Canucks may not have reached their ultimate goal by winning a Stanley Cup championship, but they have built one of the strongest organizations in the league, and they are not afraid to re-invent themselves from time to time.
It takes imagination, and that’s a major part of the GE slogan, “Imagination at Work.”
The Canucks blend the talents of their key players in a creative way. GM Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault may be a bit on the conceited side, but they are imaginative.
Anaheim Ducks: Disney Company
OK, we’re taking the easy one here. The Ducks were originally owned by Disney and named after the 1992 Disney movie The Mighty Ducks.
The Ducks have won one Stanley Cup championship, but they have been back sliding in recent years. They need the association with a huge financial giant to get back at or near the top. Disney certainly qualifies.
Dallas Stars: BMW
The Dallas Stars are going for it in 2012-13, and they would like to become The Ultimate Driving Machine. They brought in Michael Ryder prior to the 2011-12 season, and they have brought in high-profile veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney this year. If they can stay healthy and get off to a good start, the Stars will prove to be a smooth driving machine, much like BMW.
Los Angeles Kings: Staples
The Kings play in the Staples Center, so that’s one part of the equation. But it’s not the major part.
If you look at the way the Kings played in the postseason, there’s only one conclusion you can come to after they rolled over the Vancouver Canucks, the St. Louis Blues and the Phoenix Coyotes before they beat the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals: “That Was Easy.”
Phoenix Coyotes: Salvation Army
Sorry about that, but the Coyotes are about one step above a charity. They have no ownership, and their situation is not stable.
How much longer will the Coyotes be playing in the desert? Could they move to Quebec City or Seattle? Prospective owner Greg Jamison is struggling to collect the money he needs to take over one minute and then he has it the next. Who knows which report is correct?
The fans enjoyed the team’s playoff run, but would the people of Phoenix really care if they left for another city? Doubtful.
San Jose Sharks: Burger King
The Sharks have always been an underdog kind of franchise, much like the way Burger King is to McDonald’s. However, if you’re going to be completely honest and fair about it, the Burger King product does not have to take a back seat to McDonald’s
Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” slogan has stood the test of time, and so have the Sharks. Playing in what was perceived as a non-hockey market, the Sharks have thrived and become one of the classiest teams in the league. They have fallen short in the playoffs, but there is still hope that the Sharks can do it their way and win a championship.