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NHL Jerseys, Advertisements and the New Jersey Devils

Recent reports have come out stating that the NHL and Adidas have signed a new jersey deal. That news isn't so big on its own; however, the word surrounding this move is that it may pave the way for ads on team jerseys.

Could we be looking at a future NHL where a team crest isn't front and center on a jersey?
Could we be looking at a future NHL where a team crest isn't front and center on a jersey?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

So in my time writing for SB Nation so far, you guys may have realized that I'm a hockey nut; while I bleed Devils red and black through and through, I also have a spot in my heart for the sport itself.  I try to follow as much hockey news as possible during the offseason so that I can remain current on any issues around the league, as well as anything about our Devils.

"Current on any issues" is where I want to go today after reading this article courtesy of TSN.  I have to say that I have nothing against Adidas or their three-stripe design, and if they wanted to add them to jerseys around the league I could make peace with that.  No, I'm here because I want to discuss the other portion of the article, where Rick Westhead states that multiple sources informed TSN that this could be a natural segue into advertisements on jerseys.  I have to say that I have strongly mixed feelings on the issues, as both sides of the argument make a lot of sense.

The Argument For Advertising

Obviously the first thing that comes to mind when you think about advertising is the bottom line...literally.  Dollar signs dance through the heads of owners who can tack additional logos on to the jerseys of the team(s) they own.  Again, going back to the TSN article:

During a meeting of NHL team presidents in New York last year, league officials estimated they might raise $4 million per team - or $120 million annually - by allowing corporate sponsors to put their logos front and centre on jerseys.

That's a lot of income for the league and for each team; the article doesn't mention if the money would be used on a team by team basis or if it would be used to help keep struggling franchises out of the red, but from the language, I think it's safer to assume the former.  $4 million would be helpful for teams to pay their staff members, and might even encourage some owners to spend closer to the salary cap than they do now.

I'm not sure there's any other reasoning aside from money on this side of the argument; yes, again it is a LOT of money we are discussing here, but to change from tradition to drive a profit?  I know it has worked in some other sports, but many of those leagues don't have the revenue stream the NHL does.  Are there enough factors to mitigate an extra $120 million spread throughout the league?

Against All Ads

After reading the TSN article, I saw Tom Gulitti over at Fire and Ice re-tweet this Twitter thought from current Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler:

The words "sacred" and "honor" I interpret as this man saying he holds tradition dear; he doesn't want corporations or their names getting involved with the team jerseys, he just wants to go out and play hockey.  While I can see why the league would also want to make money, I can also see Wheeler's side of the story; jerseys have never had corporate logos on them before, so why should the league sell its integrity?

Maybe Wheeler is alone in this line of thinking; maybe he isn't; an attempt to find more opinions from NHL players led me to another TSN article which supposedly contained opinions of 4 players including our own Mike Cammalleri.  The reason I say supposedly is because when I tried to click the video, I was met with a message saying, "Sorry, the video you have selected is not available for viewing in this region."

(As an aside if there are any Devils fans in other regions reading this, if you could please post a summary of what the players said that would be much appreciated.)

Another thing to look at is the fact that fans may not want to buy jerseys with logos on them; in that case, NHL team executives will have to calculate how much they're losing in jersey sales versus how much they're making with the advertisements.  There's also the chance that fan jerseys would not have the logos, but again that would be a loss of money because there will no longer be an "authentic" jersey category, just the "premier" one.

Devils in the Details Ads

So what could advertisements mean for our New Jersey Devils?  I have to say that if some members of the old regime were here (hint: the main person I'm talking about is having his name removed from this blog's name), I feel 100% certain that the Devils would find a way to keep advertisements off of their jerseys.  In the Shero era, I feel like New Jersey would be one of the first teams attempting to put sponsor patches on their uniforms.  I'm not saying Shero is advocating for the Devils "selling their soul" so to speak, but rather he's made many progressive moves lately, and it seems that if this were to come to pass, Shero would be at the front of the progression line again.

Again, the money would be a nice thing for any franchise, and hopefully some of it would be used to upgrade the facilities or even lower ticket prices for we, the fans if the profits were on a team by team basis.  If the league were to share the revenue, well then basically we'd be helping keep the Arizona Coyotes and any teams that decide to tank each season in the green.

Now I'd like to hear from you my fellow Devils fans; what do you think about advertisements on jerseys?  Are you for them or against them?  Do you agree with Blake Wheeler's sentiments or are you more about how the money could help the league?  Leave any and all thoughts below, and as always thank you for reading!