The NHL won't wait any longer.
Despite the groans of hockey fans across North America, the NHL has revealed that it intends to pursue jersey ads, securing millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue in the process.
Negative Reactions from Fans
[The] NHL has successfully learned to monetize anything and everything tangentially related to its product. Given the latter, it's surprising that only in recent months are we learning the NHL plans on pasting players' jerseys with advertisements.
As Hunnings notes, when the NHL pursues jersey ads, the league will monetize one of its final frontiers.
Is the Extra Sponsorship Cash Significant?
In September, TSN.ca analyst Rick Westhead estimated that the NHL would generate a minimum of $120 million—$4 million per team—through jersey sponsorship. Though $4 million doesn't sound like an overwhelming figure, the NHL seems unwilling to ignore the extra advertising cash any longer.
Perhaps the extra cash is significant.
As per Sean Gentille at Sporting News, with the extra cash earned through jersey ads, "the cap would go up by, roughly, the cost of a third-pairing defenseman. That's not insignificant."
It is debatable whether fans would agree with Gentille's point. Would the casual fan really be willing to trade the purity of their favourite team's jersey for the price of a third-pair defenseman like the Leafs' Roman Polak or the Rangers' Mike Kostka?
Sporting News has offered an interesting projection of how the new jerseys might look.
Ready or Not, Jersey Ads are Coming to a Rink Near You
Regardless of the feelings of fans, jersey ads appear to be inevitable, meaning fans are left to fear NHL jerseys coming to look like the ad-splattered jerseys worn during the Spengler Cup.
Mercifully for hockey fans, the answer seems to be "not yet."
At TheHockeyWriters.com, Bill Schoeninger speculates that jersey ads could be as small as a patch on the upper chest, opposite to where the captain's "C" is located. In this scenario, the integrity of the jersey would be largely maintained.
Maybe fans could learn to live with that.
One way or another, though, jersey sponsorship is coming.
For disgruntled fans, it's time to take some advice from Adam Proteau at The Hockey News: "Have a barf bag nearby."