Today marks a new low in NHL history. In a league where scenarios like Kyle Beach in Chicago, Akim Aliu in Calgary, and Mitchell Miller in Boston are all a reality, atop the controversy list lies a rule change by the NHL in August of 2021.
You might be asking yourself, "Why am I reading about a rule change made in August of 2021 in May of 2023?" "What could this rule possibly be, and why is it only a big deal now?" I'm sure the suspense is killing you, so I'll get to the point.
In August 2021, the NHL Board of Governors approved jersey advertising beginning this season. This meant that as of the start of this season, teams are now allowed to place advertisements on their jerseys.
The NHL's jersey ads are slightly larger than the NBA's. They fit into a 3-inch-by-3.5-inch space on the jerseys, and rather than a square patch, they'll use whatever logo the sponsor requests, provided it fits.
"The more logos you put on there, the less value there might be. So the clubs wanted to go with the one ad. That's what we'll have for the foreseeable future. There was never a discussion about multiple [ads]. It's one brand on the sweater," Keith Wachtel, NHL chief business officer and executive vice president of global partnerships, said in an ESPN article earlier this season.
So far, everything has gone smoothly, I guess. Not every team has a jersey sponsor, and some teams that don't need the extra money do have a jersey sponsor. Like the Toronto Maple Leafs, for example. The Leafs have "Milk" as a jersey sponsor. That's right, "Milk." No, no, you didn't read that wrong; the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHL's most valuable franchise, have "Milk" as their jersey sponsor. The most infamous jersey in hockey dawns the word "Milk" because MLSE finally realized paying your top 4 players 90% of your salary cap will not keep the lights on long term.
Although that's bad enough, yesterday, a jersey leak for the Stanley Cup Final put all of that to shame. Due to a jersey ad on the right chest, the Florida Panthers will have the Stanley Cup Final patch next to the Captain's letters on the left chest.
Florida has been the scum of the earth, move the team, poverty franchise of the NHL for over a decade. Now they make the Stanley Cup Final (by the grace of God), and because they need to recoup funds from averaging an attendance of five for the last 15 years, they will tarnish the sanctity that is to have the Stanley Cup Final patch on your jersey when you hit the ice as one of the last two teams playing for the hardest trophy to win in all of sports.