They're finally here.
For the first time, the jerseys worn by players competing in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey will feature advertisements in the form of a sponsor patch.
The NHL revealed on Wednesday that each game jersey will be adorned with an SAP patch on the right shoulder. SAP is a software company based in Germany that was founded by, among others, San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner.
While the presence of any ad is sure to rile up the purists, it's not a particularly invasive addition. In fact, the placement ensures it will be fairly easy to overlook and the coloring of the logo blends in discreetly with the jersey.
The patch will only be found on game-worn jerseys, ensuring the sanctity of store-bought replicas. There were no details about what SAP paid for the privilege, but Sports Business Journal reports that the NHL and NHLPA have secured $25 million in sponsorship deals overall.
The presence of the patches raises one obvious question: are ads on NHL game jerseys next?
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says one has nothing to do with the other.
“Nobody should say that [this] means the next step is to put [ads] on NHL jerseys,” Bettman said at a World Cup press conference on Wednesday. “I am a believer in the history, tradition and exactly how special NHL sweaters are. These World Cup jerseys have been designed from scratch and are spectacular, but it’s not necessarily the same as NHL sweaters. I don’t think anyone should make that leap right now.”