The Future of NHL Sponsorship

The NHL has a legitimate violence problem on its hands. With the rash of incidences in recent weeks, many fans are beginning to question whether or not the league is doing enough to protect its players from serious injury. In response to the NHL’s decision not to discipline Zdeno Chara, two notable corporate entities have openly questioned the league’s approach to discipline and player safety.

Air Canada was the first high profile corporate sponsor to speak out in regards to the seemingly increasing level of violent plays in the game. The airline’s director of marketing/communications lashed out at Gary Bettman and the NHL for their lack of action taken against Boston’s Zdeno Chara for his controversial hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Air Canada essentially threatened to pull its sponsorship of the NHL which, on Thursday, commissioner Bettman more or less dismissed as a bluff. Canadiens owner and beer magnate Geoff Molson also expressed his discontent with the incident in a letter to Habs fans on Thursday.

With this recent backlash from notable NHL sponsors and the subsequent stonewalling from Gary Bettman and the league, we go to thinking…

What if the NHL continues to allow itself to become an extreme sport-like game and major corporations eventually eschew hockey in favour of more ‘brand friendly’ sports? The game as we know it would look very different. The NHL would be left to explore new avenues of sponsorship to keep the league afloat.

The game would probably begin to look a lot more like this:

Get Ready for Uniform Sponsors

Wonder Bread, toy makers, penis pills, smokes… the NHL could eventually open its doors to allow multiple sponsors to leave their mark on uniforms.

Strategic Placement of Ads

Unless the NHL cleans up its act, major sponsors will eventually be able to choose where they place their logos in an effort to enhance their effectiveness with subliminal messages. Yikes!

Microbreweries Take Over as Beer Sponsors

Sure, a microbrewery like Oakville, Ontario based Cameron’s might not pack the corporate punch of a heavyweight like Molson – but they make up for it with beer that doesn’t taste like a roll of pennies tossed into a glass of tap water. For the record, we’d actually endorse the shift to craft beer in NHL arenas.

The Impending Use of Cheaper and Less Reputable Airlines

Welcome to Con Air.

Let’s hope the NHL gets its priorities in order and the look of the game doesn’t receive a drastic makeover… well, except for the beer.