It appears that desperate times call for desperate measures in the National Hockey League.
Faced with a drastically damaged balance sheet as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep fans out of arenas across North America, the NHL has come to terms with four companies on a unique sponsorship package.
The league is partnering with Scotiabank, Honda, Discover and MassMutual on four new division names for this year’s 56-game season — the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division and MassMutual NHL East Division.
Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, this isn’t the first — and probably won’t be the last — time the NHL opens its doors to sponsors and the added revenue they provide.
For years now, the boards, ice surfaces and scoreboards at every NHL arena have been flooded with the logos of companies who are more than willing to shell out big bucks to get eyeballs on their brand.
Also new this season are sponsor logos that will appear on player’s helmets.
For instance, we see a Scotiabank logo on the helmets worn by players of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames, Bridgestone’s logo on the Nashville Predators’ helmet and AT&T on the helmets of the Dallas Stars.
Company logos have been splashed on the front of soccer jerseys for decades, the sweaters of European hockey teams are littered with sponsor logos, PGA golfers have sported clothing that highlights sponsor brands, and the NBA recently allowed its teams to display a logo on team jerseys.
I don’t mind that the NHL is going down this route, especially with the financial hit the league and its players are taking.
While I think the helmet logos are here to stay I don’t think the division sponsorships will return in the future, and truth be told, fans will just call the Scotiabank NHL North Division the North Division or the Canadian Division so the return on investment for those four companies is probably going to be minimal.
However, I will draw the line when it comes to splashing a company logo on any of the league’s trophies including the Stanley Cup.
That is definitely a no-go zone.
Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.