NHL Fans Shouldn’t Fear Adidas as Jersey Manufacturer

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Put another way, the vast majority of NHL jerseys are sacred in the way that the design on a Pepsi can is sacred: Not. Because frankly, NHL teams probably change their jersey designs more often than any given soda manufacturer.

Since 2010, in fact, the average NHL team has had jerseys change in some way (materially changing them in some way like new patches or logos, adding or subtracting third or even fourth jerseys, etc.), an average of 2.3 times per team. And that’s not including one-off jerseys like those for Winter Classics/outdoor games or throwback nights. Why do they do it? Because they can sell more merchandise that way.

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Not that there’s going to be any sort of initial rush to buy new jerseys with the ads on them, though it might lead to a run on current jerseys if there’s a definitive start date on which those ads would be included league-wide, as well as a big secondary market for used sweaters sans logos. But then, at some point, people will just stop caring that there’s a small ad on a jersey that, again, probably blends in pretty well with the overall look. And would you really be all that surprised to see major redesigns of the logos to coincide with the Adidas launch that oh by the way just so happen to have that little ad? Redesigned jerseys sell because fans want to be up on the latest team look. That’s why new uniforms and third jerseys get introduced so often.

Let’s put it this way: Your complaints, two or so years in advance, are going to be duly noted. Here’s a mockup from the New England Hockey Journal’s Andy Merritt of what an ad on a Bruins jersey might look like; notice the photoshop job hasn’t caught fire due to how sacrilegious it is. In fact, one might go so far as to say it looks………… fine.

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It really is amazing, though, that a league with an award (formerly) Presented By Bridgestone, which plasters ads on boards and the ice and even the glass behind the net, and which has official partnerships with — just off the top of my head here — GEICO, Reebok, Pepsi, Enterprise, Ticketmaster and Coors Light would be criticized by fans as being too commercial is pretty damn funny. Every power play and penalty kill and shootout has a corporate sponsor. Complaining about it, or pretending it’s going to make you physically ill, is really pissing in the wind.

Everyone said the same things about how ads on the ice surface a decade ago would ruin the sport forever, and now no one notices. They said that about ads on the boards a few dozen years before that.

And here’s an area where ads on jerseys actually helps the league and players alike: This is hockey-related revenue that benefits everyone. Maybe Blake Wheeler will have a different take when it turns out these jersey adds get him an extra $100,000 or more per year on his next contract. You can buy a lot of seam rippers to remove all that offensive stitching with the extra cash.

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Hell, it benefits teams even beyond the extra revenue; people have been talking for a while now about the implications of a plateauing salary cap — Craig Custance talked about it at length in a column this week — on teams with superstar players. Because teams like Chicago and Montreal just thought the ceiling would keep rising by 8 percent every summer, and spent the last few years signing their best players to contracts with record-breaking AAVs as a result, market value for guys like Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar, and Mark Giordano is much higher relative to the cap than it probably should be.

If your favorite team has elite players and also seems capable of competing in the near future, you should be 100 percent in favor of plastering ads on every square inch of a team’s jerseys. That way the cap goes up because more money is coming in, and Steve Yzerman doesn’t have to consider trading two of The Triplets because he extended Stamkos for mega-money and Victor Hedman needs a new contract.

And at some point, as Custance notes, there’s only so much money in the system. Even the teams with low cap obligations and the ability to rip off teams that need to move space (like the Islanders did to Chicago and Boston last September) will one day just not have the ability to take on even middling contracts if prices for high-end players keep rising like they have, but the cap stays flat.

So if anything, ads on jerseys do in some way help the league and your favorite team. You might not like how they look, but it really, really, really isn’t as big a deal as most people seem to be making of it.

Yeah, maybe people should start being concerned when it’s something like “Connor McDavid, Presented by Canadian Tire.” But until then, take it easy, buddy. It’s not the end of the world.

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