The notion of advertising on jerseys rankles many hockey fans. But news the NHL and NHLPA are considering putting ads on player jerseys at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey shouldn’t upset anyone – because that tournament has no real sense of tradition of competitive purity.
TSN report Thursday rankled more than a few people with news the NHL and NHLPA intend to put advertisements on player jerseys in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on a “trial” basis. Sacrilege? Nah. And I say this as someone
who detests the idea of advertising on NHL teams’ jerseys. But the World Cup is a different animal altogether. That tournament isn’t steeped in tradition like the Olympic Games, nor does it originate from a place of pure, uncompromising athletic competition, like an IIHF world championship. The history of the World Cup traces back to the Canada Cup, which was in large part the brainchild of
the villainous NHLPA turncoat Alan Eagleson.
If that’s not enough poison in the well for you, all you need to know to put the World Cup in proper perspective is what its primary purpose is:
to make money. Proceeds of the tournament will be split between team owners and NHL players – and yes, you can say the same thing about the NHL itself, but the jerseys worn by NHL teams have deep and lasting cultural connections to their individual communities and the hockey world at large. You can’t say the same for a national team jersey – or in this case, a quasi-national team jersey, because the World Cup teams that will be picked won’t be true national teams. If they were, Canada would be free to put phenom Connor McDavid on their roster, but he’ll almost certainly be playing for the Under-23 squad. So we’ve established that this isn’t a true global tournament, and we’ve established the “best of” national teams aren’t really going to be “best of”. See what I’m getting at? The status of the World Cup can’t really compare to other nation-on-nation showdowns, because it’s nothing like them. This tournament is solely to present fans with an opportunity to dispose of some disposable income, and
the different format is designed to grab people’s attention. I’m not saying it’s ideal, but if the profit the league and players make from doing it this way means staves off the threat of advertising on NHL jerseys a few more years, they can cover those jerseys head to toe with golden arches, poker website addresses and apples galore. The World Cup is a for-profit beast with barely any history behind it. If we’re worried about the state of a Canadian or American national team jersey, we should’ve focused on some of the
the past. Let’s save our full fury for the day the NHL decides a truly iconic uniform should be messed with.