If one thing is certain about the pandemic we're all living through, it's that when we come out the other side of it -- whenever that may be -- we're destined to experience change in our lives.
For the NHL and the NHLPA, who are currently trying to negotiate money considerations for a likely shortened 2020-21 season, some level of change is inevitable. And not just in the short-term as they discuss things like escrow, salary deferment or, eventually, how to safely get a percentage of fans back in the building. The long-term look of the league could be much different than it was prior to March of 2020.
And the current negotiations could have a lot to do with it. As it stands, the league is asking for $300 million from the players through some combination of salary deferments or escrow to deal with the much lower levels of revenue that will come in. So, perhaps it's time to get creative on how to make up some of that lost money in other ways.
"If I'm a player what I'm asking about is how can we increase revenue?" Elliotte Friedman said on the most recent episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast. "If you want me to defer I'll defer, but I want some commitment to growing revenue."
With that in mind, here are four areas where the NHL could come out of the pandemic looking much different, as largely discussed on the podcast.
ADS ON JERSEYS
Bring this one up and most NHL fans are quick to dismiss it. And not just fans, this is something owners and players have generally not been in favour of over the years. While European soccer and hockey teams are all-in on jersey ads, it's something that's only begun to beachhead at the highest levels in North America, where the NBA has added small ads to its jerseys.
The NHL, so far, has still shied away from going this route.
“It’s not an active discussion among NHL clubs,” commissioner Gary Bettman said about jersey ads in 2017. “I always said we wouldn’t be first. OK, great. The NBA is doing it. But it would take an unusual circumstance – which I would define as ‘a lot of money that I’m having trouble comprehending right now’ – for us to even be thinking about it.”
Well, it's hard to imagine a more unusual circumstance than the current conditions the league and players' association are negotiating under.
When most fans hear this suggestion the initial reaction is to shudder and worry about how that would look, especially on the more historic jerseys such as the Canadiens', Maple Leafs' and Rangers'. That may be because the first thing that comes to mind are busy European league jerseys, where ads dominate the sweater, helmet, socks...you name it.