Habs Fans React to Montreal Canadiens Jersey Sponsor Patch, NHL
MONTREAL, QC. — In Forbes’ 2021 Most Valuable NHL Franchise calculations, the Montreal Canadiens stood third overall at $1.6 billion US, just behind the $1.8 billion Toronto Maple Leafs and $2 billion New York Rangers. Team revenue stood at $105 million – the highest in the NHL – and debt sat at a relatively low 15 percent. The numbers showed huge value increases on the 2019 valuations, which clocked the Habs in at $1.34 billion.
NHL teams are flying in value, particularly those of the Original Six, so it might come as a surprise that the Habs were among the first to leap at the opportunity presented by the NHL’s Jersey Advertising Program. This year, Montreal has been among the first to feature an advertising patch front and centre on the historic jersey. While much more subtle than sponsorships in soccer, in hockey, it’s certainly a big change.
Still, if there’s a way to make more money, governing bodies will pursue the opportunities. Given how lucrative shirt sponsors have proven to be in Europe, it was only going to be a matter of time here. There are arguably, however, right ways to go about the process.
Habs get their first jersey ads
The whole process of hockey jerseys getting sponsors started to become a possibility when the NHL made a deal with Adidas to become the primary jersey supplier. Now, it’s a reality. Under the Jersey Advertising Program, teams can place one 3’’ by 3.5’’ patch or embroidery on the jersey, with the advertiser deciding what image or logo fills the space.
For the Canadiens, higher-ups decided to go with a full-sized, squared patch featuring the RBC logo for the Royal Bank of Canada advertiser. The ad is said to only feature on home jerseys when the Habs play at Centre Bell, which makes sense as away games against US teams would waste the advertising money.
The bank has also said that it will donate $20 to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation for each jersey sold at the official team store at the stadium. That hasn’t stopped the uproar, though, with fans vehemently opposed to the jersey patches.
Better ways to go about jersey ads
It’s important to note that these are jersey ads and not team sponsor logos, so the businesses aren’t as closely tied to the teams as sponsors would be in a sport like soccer. That said, opting to take offers from charitable, foundational, small businesses, or local businesses can help to alleviate the sting of seeing a sponsor on jerseys, as can making deals with more relevant businesses.
For the last couple of years, the NHL has been taking up betting partnerships with several companies, looking to cash in on the rise of the activity across North America. For Canadian teams, a similar treading could lead to industry giant PartyCasino, which launched in Ontario. It offers casino, poker, and a sportsbook all in one place, making it relevant to a sporting ad deal. The Washington Capitals have taken such a stance with their ads.
The better PR move is to go local with a strong line to attempt to advertise with the community in mind. The Toronto Maple Leafs look to have gone more down this route, partnering with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario to put the Milk patch on their jerseys, seeking to promote a healthy lifestyle.
It’s long been in the works, regardless of what Gary Bettman says when in the public eye, and now, jersey ads are here to stay. We’ll have to wait and see if the Habs get more ads for away, and third jerseys.