As NHL teams continue to sell space on their uniforms to advertisers (the latest announcement came from the Jets, who on Friday became the ninth team to go ad-clad), the widespread assumption — including here at Uni Watch HQ — has been that all or almost all of the league’s 32 teams would go ad-clad this season. (The one exception we currently know of are the Oilers, who are reportedly not having a jersey ad, at least for now.)
But it turns out that the situation isn’t quite so dire, at least based on an article you might have missed last Friday afternoon from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. Its big takeaway: The league expects only about half of its 32 teams to have jersey ads this season.
Wyshynski’s article is based on an interview he did with Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships, regarding the uni ad program. Here’s the operative passage:
Wachtel said the majority of NHL teams will not have a patch [advertiser] this season. … [He] estimates that about half of the NHL’s teams will have a jersey ad patch at some point this season.
Wachtel said there was no rush to get these ads done before the 2022-23 season. The NHL has advised teams that they can sell ad space during the season or even into the postseason. Or, in some cases, not at all “until they get the value” they’re looking for in a multiyear partnership. As one NHL team source said, “the market is flooded” when it comes to advertising at the moment.
“We did not expect it would be all the teams out of the gate because we want the value of the asset to be protected,” Wachtel said. “And some people just want to see what [the program] looks like. We’re actually happy that many of our clubs are taking a wait-and-see approach.”
The NHL does anticipate that the majority of its teams will have a jersey [advertiser] in the 2023-24 season.
Okay, so that first graf is a little confusing, because Wachtel first says the majority won’t have ads and then says about half will have ads. It sounds like he’s expecting about 14 or 15 of the league’s 32 teams to go ad-clad.
Am I excited about seeing over a dozen ad-clad NHL teams this season? Of course not. But am I happy to hear that about half the league will remain ad-free for 2022-23? Definitely!
The nine teams that have currently announced jersey advertisers are the Blue Jackets, Blues, Canadiens, Capitals, Coyotes, Golden Knights, Penguins, Wild, and the aforementioned Jets. If Wachtel’s projection is accurate, that means we should see only five or six more this season.
Other notable bits of info from Wyshynski’s article:
- Although all of the ad patches we’ve seen so far have been located on the upper-right chest, teams can also opt for the upper-left chest, or on either shoulder.
- Adverts for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or anything sexual are not allowed. Ditto for any advertiser who might compete with an existing league partner.
- Gambling ads are allowed (indeed, the Caps and Golden Knights already have them), but only on home jerseys of teams located in states where sports gambling is legal. Gambling ads are also now permitted on home helmets, where they had been disallowed for the past two seasons.
The article concludes with a hilarious attempt at a face-saving quote from Wachtel: “We still have tasteful ice. We have tasteful boards. We’ve done this very tastefully too.” Hahahahahahahahaha.