Saw some tweets recently that pretty much confirmed what people might have suspected....Ads on NHL helmets are here to stay.
This isn't really a shocking development. Even though it was explained as a "test" it seems pretty apparent that this went over as a big win for teams, the league and some of the largest partners NHL teams have. There has not been an official report yet, but recently it was said that placing logos on NHL helmets generated nearly $100 million in revenue this year league wide. That is a hefty chunk of change in a challenging season that was littered with financial difficulty that was caused by the COVID pandemic.
At first, I was pretty leery about how this would go - but honestly after the first few weeks, I hardly noticed it. Let's use the Penguins as our example. PPG (one of the largest partners the Penguins have) was the team helmet sponsor this season. At first, we all complained about the contrast of the bright blue PPG logo on the Pens black and gold jerseys. Within a week, they made changes to both the home and alternate helmets that allowed for the PPG logo to match the helmets exactly. The only time the blue logo was used was when the Pens were wearing white. After about 2 weeks, I got used to it and hardly cared. Something I was dead set against ended up not changing my viewing experience even a little bit.
Other teams did a great job with this as well. Capital One was the Capitals helmet sponsor, and their color scheme and company name fit on their uniforms like a glove. There were also plenty of bad examples. Scotiabank's red logo on the Maple Leaf's blue and white helmets, Bridgestone's red logo on the gold Predators helmets and so on and so on. What I am getting at here is that I think it looks completely fine when a logo is placed to match the team color. I know some of these organizations have strict brand guidelines about how their logo appears anywhere, but I think if teams have the freedom to adjust the logo color like the Penguins did with PPG, I have no problem with this being permanent.
With this set for the foreseeable future, it appears that NHL teams are now eyeing the possibility of adding sponsors to jerseys. THIS is where I start to get nervous, because it infringes more on the team identity that any helmet logo ever could. The fan element comes into play here big time. Think about it - we don't flock to the store to buy team helmets, but we certainly buy the jerseys of all of our favorite players. Adding brand logos to that line of merch would be extremely lucrative beyond what we see on the ice.
European soccer and international leagues have done this forever - it's basically a way of life. Here in the United States, the NBA was one of the first major sports leagues to give this a go. Honestly I think it has turned out pretty good for them. It seems like the NHL is starting to take more stock into the successes of the NBA. Things like ads on uniforms, multi-network TV deals etc etc. I know its change and we all hate change, but maybe the NHL is wise to follow the models of other leagues that generate WAY more money than they do.
Time will tell what happens.
TLDR - I am cool with helmet ads as long as we can make them match team colors, and I am not sold on the idea of selling jersey ads yet.