Sports

Inside the NHL’s decision to put ads on jerseys

The NHL will allow teams to sell advertising on their jerseys beginning in the 2022-23 season. The measure has been approved by the board of governors, and teams are already having exploratory conversations with potential sponsors.

To say those teams are salivating at the potential revenue the ads will generate is an understatement.

“It’s a game-changer for us financially,” David Morehouse, Pittsburgh Penguins president, told ESPN this week.

NHL teams see the placement of ads on their players as something that has the revenue potential to rival annual arena-naming-rights fees.

“We honestly believe that the overall program is worth hundreds of millions of dollars on a yearly basis. This is big,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer and senior executive vice president.

But fans are already asking whether the cost is too high. NHL sweaters have long been considered sacrosanct. The idea of an advertisement — besides the one for the gear maker — sullying the classic look of a Montreal Canadiens sweater is blasphemy for many. We might associate the Boston Bruins with a particular doughnut and coffee chain, but we don’t need to see their logo drawing our eyes away from the spoked “B.”

“We know the game is sacred. We think we have the greatest jerseys in sports. We are careful when we do these things,” Wachtel said.

Here’s an inside look at how the NHL arrived at selling advertisements on its sweaters starting in 2022-23. We dive into all the regulations the league is putting in place — such as the sponsors from which teams can or cannot accept ads — hoping to calm the fears it has heard in the wake of the decision.

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