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Monday, February 18, 2021

Goaltenders enjoy the spotlight that comes with being the focal point of the on-ice action. So maybe it’s natural that they’re the ones spearheading the long-expected migration of advertisements onto major-league player uniforms, in the form of the Goaltender’s Club, a proposal to sell corporate logos on the jerseys of the NHL’s 60 goalies.

A copy of the goaltender’s club proposal, obtained by the [Toronto] Star, shows corporate presence on a jersey could range from subtle to more invasive.

One proposal shows Roloson’s blue and orange team jersey with a small Rexall logo above the Oilers symbol. The drugstore chain’s symbol could also be “sublimated (dyed right into the fabric) on a portion of the sleeve.” A second proposal depicts Brodeur’s Red Devils jersey. The team’s NJ on the chest is positioned above a large tag for the bank UBS and adjacent to an RBC logo. Bank Morgan Stanley’s symbol could be featured on the goalie’s sleeves and shoulders.

A third proposal shows Detroit goalie Hasek’s red jersey, again with the Red Wings’ logo front and centre above the larger symbol of insurance company AIG. The company’s logo could also be displayed on the sleeves and on the bottom of the jersey’s back. The presentation also suggests goalies be allowed to choose the jersey’s colour and depicts Hasek’s in black, blue, green and white styles.

The differentiation of the goaltender’s uni colors is the biggest problem I have with this concept. I know it mirrors European soccer goalies’ looks, and that’s why I hate it: Goalies on the grass look like clowns half the time, donned in a shiny outfit that makes him stand out from his teammates to the point of distraction. It’s an unnecessary visual divider for the spectator. I don’t care how explicit it might otherwise be to tell which goalie is with which team — breaking that uniform pattern breaks the uniformity. That’s why they’re uniforms, remember?

Actually, the biggest problem I have with this scheme is that it’s based upon the idea that NHL clubs are hemorrhaging cash, thereby justifying the monetization of another aspect of the game. Any declaration of poverty among the major-pro franchises is met by extreme skepticism by me, because it’s a refrain that’s been repeated for decades, despite rising franchise values and ever-sweeter arena/commercial real estate deals. In short, I don’t buy the justification.

But does any of that matter? There’s money to be made, and players’ jerseys are the vacuum waiting to be filled.

My sense is that the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL are all waiting one another out. The first one to blink — be it hockey or one of the other major team sports — will be the green light for the others to follow suit. Until then, the idea seems too minor league for North American sports mores to accept all at once.

I’m resigning myself to the expectation that it’s a question of when, not if. I’d be really pleased if the NHL, being my favorite sport, not be the one to cross the line first. But I’m sure that, say, 10 years from now, it’ll all be academic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/18/2008 11:00:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, SportsBiz
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