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Next Season Jersey Ads Are Unfortunately Coming To Vegas

We were told it would only be on helmets, and that it wasn’t necessarily permanent. Well, now it is and it just got a lot worse for stiff traditionalists like myself.

The NHL board of governors unanimously voted to approve the ad policy, according to a memo emailed this week to all 32 teams. Clubs are now free to start negotiating with potential partners, according to the memo… The ads must fit a rectangle 3 inches by 3.5 inches, making them slightly bigger than the patches that the NBA added to its jerseys for the 2017-18 season. –Sportico

It’s been no secret the league has been exploring the idea of selling ads on jerseys.

To be fair, it’s hard to blame the NHL and its owners for their apparent decision. After almost two unprofitable seasons adding a sponsor patch is nothing more than making up lost revenue. Plus the league already witnessed what a small tweak could do for their bottom line. According to Bettman, the team partnerships generated an additional $100M for the league by introducing advertisements on players’ helmets. Just imagine what prime real estate on a player’s jersey would be worth. Toss in that any ad patch will be clearly visible on TV, it’s an easy sell for the Golden Knights. With that potential, it’s a wonder why all 32 franchises unanimously voted in favor for the 2022-23 regular season.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s inevitable. It’s something that makes good sense for us to be considering and looking at but certainly not for next season. Beyond that, I’m not prepared to predict but it’s something we’re looking at. -Gary Bettman, March 2021

The NBA began selling jersey space in 2017 and since then fans have gotten over the initial eyesore. At this point, the paid stitching above looks like it’s been above the team name for decades. The NHL is hoping for the same type of acceptance from hockey fans, as they received after the introduction of helmet ads. However, there’s a big difference between an NBA tank top and an NHL sweater.

In the past NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had addressed jersey ads and shrugged at the idea of them. However, Bettman said it would take an unusual circumstance to open up that door. After an unexpected pandemic leaving owners with 31 empty buildings for an entire season was the situation he was dreading.

The jersey is especially valuable real estate for marketers, who benefit from a lot of TV exposure during games. For a long time the NBA wouldn’t even let Adidas, its jersey provider at the time, put its logo on the top of the uniforms, keeping that space solely for the league’s own marks. –Sportico

Well if you’re like me it’ll take adjusting. The Golden Knights uniforms may not be historically recognized like an original six jersey but they are sharp and look fine the way it does now. An off-colored patch may become a distraction on the shoulder of a clean white Golden Knights road sweater. Or a poorly chosen partner with an obtrusive logo might mess up Vegas’ bold home greys. I know I’m stretching but an untouched uniform is the proper way to dress a club. Unless we crowdfund for enough to stitch on a SinBin logo.

Golden Knights Have Helped Keep The Integrity Of The Game

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before the announcement of the Golden Knights in 2016, professional sports seemed like a long shot in Las Vegas. Baseless theories of legal, local gambling influencing the outcome of games were used as excuses. When in reality, the thought of millionaire athletes risking their careers and future contracts to fix one game is, and was always, far-fetched.

Rewind five years, surprising to some the NHL took the risk and became the first league to crack the Las Vegas market. However, as revealed by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman the NHL is still concerned with gambling and the integrity of the game but has nothing to do with Nevada. The league proved that last week when they harshly punished veteran official Tim Peel. The last thing the NHL could afford was a corrupt official like infamous NBA referee Tim Donaghy.

There were deep conversations about how damaging it is to your league during a crisis of consumer confidence. The CBA between the NHL and its officials now contains specific code-of-conduct references: ‘Each official agrees to abstain from habits of intemperance, gambling, immorality or other conduct likely to bring himself and/or the NHL and/or the game of Hockey into disrepute or which results in the impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NHL games or the integrity and good character of its officials.’ -Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet

Last week the NHL quickly nipped a potential controversy in the bud when the official’s hot mic became a major story.

Initially, the story had absolutely nothing to do with gambling, but because of past issues in other sports, the NHL made a tough stand to ensure fans their product is genuine. Without transparency, gambling on hockey could be eliminated, and sadly to say, the interest in the sport would decrease significantly, not to mention millions in lost endorsement money for the league.

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Golden Knights To Wait For Vaccine Like Everyone Else

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL announced last week that the league is looking into purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the entire league. The report didn’t go over well with hockey fans, including this fanbase. However, the NHL stressed they wouldn’t skip the line when vaccines were made available. After all, it was designed to save lives and stop the spread, not to resume hockey.

The NHL made it known they would not take vaccines away from the public. Unfortunately, the league clarified their statement after the flack they received from fans. Even vaccine providers like Pfizer went out of their way to ensure to concerned citizens that millionaire hockey players won’t jump ahead them.

If private organizations, companies or someone like the NFL or the NHL approached you to buy vaccines, would you sell to them? –Mercedes Stephenson, The West Block

Right now, we are fully committed and built our global supply plan based upon the contracts that we’ve signed with governments, and so we’re really deferring to the governments to figure out what the best way is to allocate their product. We absolutely would love to respond to all the individual inquiries we’ve received, but we really feel that government is in the best position to determine an equitable distribution among its population. -Cole Pinnow, Pfizer Canada CEO

In other words, Pfizer didn’t develop a vaccine so professional athletes can get back to work. They designed it so you can get back to work.

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Can Jersey Ads Save The 2020-21 Season?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s clear the NHL is in a financial crunch. Unlike the other major pro sports leagues in North America, hockey is trying to scrounge up coins buried deep in couch cushions. The league and its players need to find ways to grow revenue and it needs to happen soon. Some have suggested the Seattle Kraken organization pay half of their entry fee now to help the league get through tough times. Others have suggested extending the postseason, but there’s one that stuck out as an easy, smart way to make a buck.

If I was a player, I’d be talking about expanded playoffs and ads on jerseys. Bettman has said in the past the number has got to be worth it. Something small in a corner but enough that you know it’s there. No more of this it’s tradition… It’s time. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

I tend to lean more towards the traditional side of sports. I don’t want robot officials, I can’t stand visiting teams wearing their white sweaters and I hate advertisements on team jerseys. That’s up until now. The 2020-21 season is on the line and whatever the league can do to make it work, needs to happen.

It’s true jersey advertisements break tradition. They can potentially tarnish an already perfect team sweater by making it look cheap and commercialized. Overall it’s bad idea, but in this economy making money is all that counts. Especially if revenue from jersey sponsorships can get this NHL season off the ground. Using the NBA as an example, corporate ads can bring in bags full of cash.

So far, 19 of the 30 NBA teams have teamed up with an advertiser… The Warriors are getting $20 million a year for three years for the Rakuten ad on the upper left chest of their jerseys… –Steven Kutz, MarketWatch

The issue with business sponsorships on jerseys is finding the right fit, for the right cost. Most importantly, how to make sure they don’t become an on-ice eyesore.

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Las Vegas “Virtually A Lock” As NHL Hub City

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s one of the worst kept secrets, the city of Las Vegas is the front runner to become one of the NHL’s playoff hubs.

I think out West that Vegas is virtually a lock. I don’t know that there’s one perfect place but I sense that Vegas has an inside track.-Ray Ferraro, Ray & Dregs podcast

With the decision still in the hands of the league, TSN insider’s Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger spoke with Commissioner Gary Bettman about the plan to return to play and the selected hubs. Which could impact the Golden Knights and our city.

I’m going to have to make a decision collectively on this probably in about three weeks. I think in two weeks we’ll start narrowing down even further. Somewhere around three weeks we’re going to have to pull the trigger and start finalizing the arrangements and make our deposits. -Bettman

Over the past two months, we’ve covered every reason why Las Vegas makes sense to the NHL, but the decision really falls on the local and state governments. Bettman’s mention that any decision was still weeks away helps the city government assess the logistics. Once elected officials make their decision, the NHL can choose Las Vegas or not. Personally, I have a feeling that both parties would like to come to an agreement.

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Potential Realignment Shouldn’t Affect Golden Knights

The NHL pause has become the newest, most addicting daily soap opera. Every morning fans wake up to read the latest news on the NHL’s plans to restart the season. Yesterday, Commissioner Gary Bettman shared his optimism with the NHL network.

We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start. There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

Now that the players and owners are engaging in daily conversations it shows the effort to recover the season from both sides. One scenario NHL officials have mulled over was originally conceived by Major League Baseball.

MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.

The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel. -USA Today

TSN’s Bob McKenzie weighed on the possibility of the NHL taking the realignment approach, specifically reducing travel which allows players to play in locations closer to their homes and families.

If they get four sites, and we kind of assumed it would try to be done divisionally if they try to get the 19-20 season finished up. Four NHL sites, one for each division. There is the possibility that they would just say ‘well the Atlantic division is going to based out of Toronto. We’re not going to do can’t that, Florida and Tampa Bay can’t get from Florida up to Toronto. We’ll put them with some of the Metro teams, and move one of those Metro teams.’ You could do some mixing and matching on geographical lines versus divisions. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Analyst

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Can NHL Match NFL’s Virtual Draft?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As a Patriots fan, I tend to lose interest after the first ten picks of an NFL draft. For the good part of two decades, New England would select towards the end of the draft, or trade out of the first round like they did last Thursday. However, the idea of a virtual draft fascinated me, and after the first pick I was hooked. Obviously things were different this year, but the NFL set a good standard for the NHL to follow.

Oh and by the way, the NFL shattered viewership records.

For the most part, the NFL’s virtual draft went well, even the glitches and missteps fit. It was actually quite refreshing considering the current times. Viewers weren’t expecting everything to run smoothly when the commissioner is announcing the selections from his basement and players are finding out through FaceTime. But somehow they made it work and it was entertaining.

When you think about the amount of people that are in separate places I thought it went really smooth. It was interesting to see, you get a little peak into everybody’s personality. I thought some of the outfits were interesting. -Brad Treliving, Flames GM

The digital minds at the NHL need to be as loose and self-deprecating as the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell were. The normally stiff Goodell wasn’t as awkward as expected. He stole a page from Gary Bettman, embracing the boos from NFL fans. Heck, the first round even featured a wardrobe change by the commissioner. Bettman should skip that step, hockey fans don’t care what he is or isn’t wearing.

So how can the NHL enhance their virtual draft?

Certainly our draft is going to be remote, that would be safe to say. For sure I’m going to be watching (the NFL draft) and doing a lot of homework on not only that, but different ideas of how we could potentially do our draft. -Treliving

A virtual draft allows for imagination and innovation, and hopefully the league uses the opportunity to loosen up and entertain. Show us Bettman’s basement. Have cams set up to show players and their families huddled around TVs. Give us a personal glimpse into the lives of the players. Invite us in to see Pete DeBoer and his children hanging out like the NFL did with Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Split screens of GM’s and players on the phone, or using FaceTime. Add some personality to a league that lacks it.

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Could Las Vegas Host Several Playoff Series At Once?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Picture this, Mayor Goodman gets her wish to open casinos prematurely but only certain groups of people are allowed in. A block of rooms would be booked, and only the high-limit tables would be open. Call it a soft opening. Those guests, or tenants, would be NHL players.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli proposed four NHL cities that are well suited to host postseason series. Dallas, Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Toronto were the locations suggested. His criteria were logical and based on areas that would be safe and accessible.

The plan could include regular-season play, a traditional 16-team playoff, or even an “expanded” playoff.

Teams might be grouped by division, but not necessarily, Bettman said. Sources indicated that the NHL could have teams playing at sites outside of their usual geographic area, such as two groups of eight teams at two sites in the West – circumstances that would be dictated by which localities have eased restrictions.

“We’re just constantly trying to figure out what our alternatives will be,” Bettman said.

Bettman’s stated requirements for host sites are:

– “The location could be anywhere besides a [COVID-19] hot spot.”

– “We need a lot of ice. There does need to be practice facilities.”

– “We need four NHL-calibre locker rooms. Because if you’re going to play three games in one day, you’ve got to be moving things around, and you’ve got to make sure that we’re taking the proper sanitizing procedures.”

Sources indicate the league is keeping a running list of up to 10 NHL cities that could suitably host in the event of a centralized restart.- Frank Seravalli, TSN

At first glance Las Vegas seems to be a perfect location to host multiple series. Thanks to the shutdown and social-distancing, Southern Nevada is not a hot spot for Covid-19, which is cardinal rule #1 for Commissioner Bettman. T-Mobile Arena has many rooms that can convert into NHL-Caliber lockerrooms. Army, Cornell, Providence, and Ohio State all fit comfortably during the Fortress Invitational even with an NHL game taking place on the same day.

But, there’s one massive reason why Las Vegas can’t be one of the initial four hosts when if the league does indeed use this plan. That reason is a shortage of ice.

The city of Las Vegas currently only has three sheets of ice that meet NHL standards; one at T-Mobile and two at City National Arena. A year from now there will be two more at Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, then in a few years another one at the AHL rink in Henderson, but as for now, you can’t reasonably make NHL teams vying for a playoff spot practice at the Ice Center or Sobe Arena. Not to mention, with everyone housed on the Strip, transporting players and equipment for SEVEN teams back and forth the 17 miles to Summerlin, only to be crammed into City National Arena simply isn’t logical.

Las Vegas is just not suitable for eight teams. So scrap that idea.

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Playoff Participation Plan Diminishes Vegas’ First Place Finish

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Silly comments from P.K. Subban shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone around the Golden Knights. Remember this?

He knows he bit me. I’m not trying to rip his head off. I’m not that type of player… I don’t know how I walk out of there with four minutes in penalties… It wasn’t explained. They tried to apologize after the fact that they gave me four minutes in penalties. My finger is bleeding. I don’t know what you want me to do.-P.K. Subban accusing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare of biting his finger, 01/23/19

Well P.K. is back, and he’s pushing the idea of a ridiculous 31-team playoff. Subban believes the NHL should allow every club a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, including his 68 point Devils team. Contenders like the Golden Knights worked hard to position themselves for a Cup run, but none of that matters to the former Norris Trophy winner.

It was kind of floated around… I saw a few things on social media and I like that. For my team specifically, we were pushing to make the playoffs down the stretch. I would like to see our team have an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. I’d love too see a 31-team playoff and give those pesky Devils an opportunity of bringing the Cup back home to New Jersey. I’d love to see that. -PK Subban on ESPN

While it might sound intriguing to certain fanbases, it makes zero sense for any legitimate contender. In fact, the real losers would end up being the Golden Knights and other elite clubs. Why should they be punished for playing strong during the 71-game paused season?

The NHL is not college basketball, or even the World Cup. The Stanley Cup playoffs is not a tournament of rewarded participants, it’s a tournament of winners. So, why would Vegas, St. Louis, Boston or Tampa want to risk playing a team that has nothing to lose, and face losing to a #16th seed? They wouldn’t, and frankly, they’d be wronged if the league forced them too.

If you’re New Jersey, you’re sitting there and you say, ‘okay fair enough we realize below the cut line.’ Then you say but Montreal, sitting with 71 games 71 points. The Devils go ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, time out, we’re three points behind Montreal with two games in hand. Why would you give Montreal a chance?’ The Devils would say ‘well Montreal can’t be a part of any postseason thing because we got a better point percentage then them.’ So, I guess that’s kind of where P.K. was coming from. -Bob McKenzie

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Expected Financial Loss May Be Worse For The Players

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the pause continues, it’s no surprise the NHL is preparing for a severe loss in revenue. It’s not to suggest they would rush to play, but like most of us, the league is facing serious financial issues. It’s already started inside the league office.

But the players may be the ones that get hit the most.

Hall of Fame hockey scribe Larry Brooks reported NHL players were alerted to a staggering amount of earnings lost due to the pause.

The NHL has informed the NHLPA that revenue losses could range from the best-case low of a couple of hundred million dollars to a worst-case amount of up to one billion dollars, The Post has learned. -Larry Brooks, NY Post

The NHLPA spoke with player representatives and explained the escrow share could reach a loss of 21% if the season and/or playoffs are canceled. Under the current labor agreement, it’s possible player contracts would be paid only 65% of their salary for 2019-20.

The season is approximately 85-percent complete. The discrepancy reflects a combination of the 6-to-10 percent of revenue generated by the playoffs and the fact that a full playoff would come at the cost of the remaining 15-percent of the season that would not be played. No wonder the players are pitching the idea of resuming the season in some form and playing for the Stanley Cup in August and September.-Brooks, NY Post

For a team like the Golden Knights who were expected to make a deep run, the pause takes significant money out of the players’ pockets. Playoff shares, according to the NHL are distributed by “A single lump-sum payment of $6,500,000 shall be made by the NHL to the players on account of a player fund, which shall be allocated to the players on clubs participating in the various playoff rounds and/or based upon club finish, as shall be determined by the NHLPA, subject to approval by the League.”

Without the postseason, players stand to lose a good chunk of change, and because of their escrow agreement, they stand to be impacted financially even more than the owners.

Players and owners split the NHL’s “hockey-related revenue” 50/50 (players get their share in salaries). At the end of the playoffs every year, both sides get together and count up how much money the NHL made that season. They then use that number to estimate how much it’ll make the next season (a five per cent bump is a typical ballpark guess). The salary cap, which is designed to make sure the players get 50 per cent of the revenue and no more, is then set based on that number.

But because it’s impossible to predict exactly how much revenue will come in, a percentage of every player’s paycheque is held in escrow until the money is counted at the end of the season (it isn’t always the same, but 15 per cent is a good ballpark number). If the NHL does really well and exceeds the revenue projection by a significant amount, all that money is returned to the players. But if it doesn’t, the owners get to keep however much they need to ensure they end up with exactly 50 per cent of the revenue. –Jesse Campigotto, CBC Sports

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