It’s mid-August and since there is almost nothing hockey related to discuss so you’ve almost certainly heard that Reebok is out and Adidas is in when it comes to NHL jerseys starting in 2017. And, according to TSN, Adidas is paying the NHL a lot of money for privilege, having signed a deal that is rumoured to be double the $35M that Reebok has been paying them annually.
So what does this mean for the average fan like you and I? Again from TSN:
A source told TSN that the deal would surely mean big changes to uniform designs, perhaps with Adidas’s familiar three-stripe trademark being added to some or all team jerseys.
"The NHL might not want big changes like that, but for the money Adidas will pay, they’ll be pretty aggressive pushing to make the NHL jerseys identifiable with their brand," the source said.
For an idea of what "identifiable with the brand" might mean, check out posts on this from Broad Street Hockey, Eyes On The Prize, and Uni Watch. If that was the extent of the changes I doubt that many fans would care. Incorporating Adidas’ signature three stripes into NHL jerseys would be a change, and none of us like change, but we’d get over it in time. What seems to be generating much more discussion among hockey fans is the idea of the NHL adding advertisements to the jerseys.
During a meeting of NHL team presidents in New York last year, league officials estimated they might raise $4 million per team – or $120 million annually – by allowing corporate sponsors to put their logos front and centre on jerseys.
"If you’re already deciding on a major NHL jersey overhaul, maybe with Adidas striping on the jerseys, then it seems like it would be a good time to introduce the ads, if you plan to do it anyway," a league source told TSN.
My two cents: Jerseys simply look better without the clutter of advertisements. The same can be said of the ice and the boards. I don’t think jerseys are sacred, I just think they look better as is.
But hockey is big business and the owners are always looking for new ways to squeeze a couple more dollars out of their product. This is why there are advertisements on the ice and on the boards, and why we will see them on the jerseys someday as well, because they make the owners money. If the owners see a chance to make money, they jump on it; we’ve seen it time and time again. Multiple lockouts, expansion, and now jersey advertisements, all disliked by the majority fans and all happened, or will happen, because they make the owners money.
So jersey advertisements are inevitable and we should all accept it and move on? Nope. As a group we can actually keep this from happening.
Unfortunately though, no matter how good you think you are at it, complaining about jersey advertisements in a blog, on Twitter, or Facebook won’t be enough to actually get the NHL’s attention. They might hear you but they’ll ignore you. To actually get the NHL’s attention you have to remember why they’re doing this in the first, to make money. So to stop it you’ll have to do something extreme enough to impact their bottom line. You’d have to stop spending money on hockey.
You can start by not buying the new advertisement covered jerseys. And if the replicas that the NHL sells don’t have the advertisements (which I suspect will be the case because the league knows that the advertisements aren’t going to be popular) you still need to keep your wallet shut. If you really want the advertisements to go away you can’t give them your money. Will decreased merchandise sales alone be enough to make the league reverse its course? Maybe not, but it’s a place to start.
This plan does have a problem though, and it’s you. You’re unreliable and you can’t be depended on to not spend your money on NHL hockey.
Don’t believe me? After an entire season was lost to a lockout what did you do? You went right back and gave the owners more money and made it clear that, for all your talk, you’re not really interested in punishing them for doing things that you don’t like. And so there was another lockout and once again you came back as soon as an agreement was reached, ready to hand over more money. Whatever the owners do, no matter how much it upsets you, you keep giving them your money, and, safe in the knowledge that your money will still be there, they keep doing whatever they want.
But you have the power to change this. If you really want to watch hockey without advertisements on the jerseys all you have to break this cycle and stop rewarding the bad behaviour of the owners. It’s up to you. Because I’m sure not going to change what I’m doing.