Hextall on Hockey: Keeping Canadian fans engaged a boon for NHL

Is corporate branding on NHL helmets here for the long haul? Leah Hextall weighs in. Winnipeg Jets / Twitter

This season, NHL teams will have corporate logos displayed on player helmets, which is reported to generate $15 million in revenue.

The small logo may seem like a small step, but for the NHL it’s one that falls outside its comfort zone.

In addition to the corporate logos on helmets, the NHL unveiled sponsors for each of its divisions. The Winnipeg Jets now reside in the Scotia NHL North Division.

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Reports state the sponsored divisions will be a thing of the past after this season, but I think it’s too soon for anyone in the NHL to make that declaration.

In fact, I’m not sure the all-Canadian North — excuse me, the Scotia NHL North Division — is itself a one-hit wonder.

Read more: Rick Zamperin — Thumbs up to the NHL’s division sponsorships

If you’re the NHL and the goal is to generate revenue, having a Canadian team guaranteed to go deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs is not a bad thing.

The realigned divisions and playoff format guarantee four Canadian teams would make each postseason, with one winning its way to the final four.

To have fans in Canada engaged until what would be the conference finals can only be an economic boost to the league. Especially when — fingers crossed — fans return.

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And with a quartet of Canadian content skating into the playoffs each year, the NHL broadcast rights in Canada would increase in value. Considering the last deal was worth $5.2 billion; one would think that price point would inflate.

Ads on helmets, sponsored divisions — all fine ways for the NHL to generate revenue, but so is catering to its Canadian audience and it won’t take an ad to sell us on it.

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Canadian NHL teams gear up for north of the border hockey season – Jan 4, 2021