This is another edition of Screen Shots, a regular THN.com feature in which we analyze a small number of hockey-related topics in a short period of time. As always, let’s cut out the excessive introductory words and get down to business.
– The NHL’s “jersey advertising program” has been kicked into high gear with the unveiling of high-impact jerseys, including those of the Montreal Canadiens.
You can see why teams might want them — there’s no extra work to be done for lucrative jersey ad deals — but jersey ads are like the affliction of Greyscale in Game of Thrones. (And yes, if you’re counting, this is the first hockey/GoT comparison of what could be a lot of this corner this year.) It starts with a small “infected” area, then slowly but surely it spreads to through the “host” and possibly covers the whole person.
Of course, there will be those who would say that this kind of reaction to jersey ads is naive and point out that the rise of advertising on rink boards is something as inevitable as teams (as well as the Association of NHL players) maximize all sources of revenue. But at some point, is there nothing sacred? Part of the beauty of NHL team jerseys is that they aren’t branded with ads, and the last thing anyone should want is for NHL jerseys to start to look like European league jerseys, which in many cases are more advertisements. as the team name or logo.
Plus, it’s not like NHL team owners can cry poor here: Before the league’s salary cap was put in place, powerhouse teams in Toronto and Detroit were spending near or at the cap. current $82.5 million; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has kept costs under control, and player salaries have not increased at nearly the same rate as the value of NHL franchises. Leave the jerseys alone.
– The Winnipeg Jets recently shocked the NHL by announcing that veteran winger and locker room leader Blake Wheeler has been stripped of his position as team captain. While some people make a good point, it indicates the franchise has gone astray, if nothing else, it should be clear that Wheeler’s days in Winnipeg are numbered.
Wheeler, 36, has spent the vast majority of his NHL career with the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers organization, but he’s yet to lead them to Stanley Cup Playoff glory. He is under contract for the upcoming season and the following season at a cap of $8.25 million, a number that will limit the number of suitors for his services. But he’s a proven commodity, a big-bodied 20-goal scorer who can handle the pressure of playing in a crazy hockey market.
Either way, moving it would be a clear indication of a new era in Winnipeg, which many observers believe is now too late. If the Jets struggle to start the year, longtime general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff may not be the person to trade Wheeler, but it now seems more likely than not that Wheeler won’t be in Winnipeg for the rest of his contract. Let the bidding on him begin.
– Finally, commend the NHL for continuing to push the boundaries of female referees at the highest levels of the game. At this year’s Exposure Combine in Buffalo, there were nine women participating, many of whom worked in rookie tournaments and in the League American and junior hockey leagues.
As we have said many times, the NHL, and hockey in general, needs to do more to be more inclusive on many fronts, including the gender front. The only way to do that is through outreach programs like the NHL and NHL Officials Mentorship Program, and while there’s still a long way to go in that regard, it’s encouraging to to see the sport make real progress and inspire the youngest. women to devote their time and energy to this aspect of hockey.