Not exactly a new idea.
The National Hockey League is looking for money to help underwrite the financial losses of operating its business without in many cases customers spending money in arenas watching the product. The NHL ownership group is selling ad space on helmets and for this season only has sold the names of its divisions to corporate partners. While hockey traditionalists may be appalled by what they think might be blatant commercialism slapping a name on something in exchange for cash, it is nothing new in the hockey world. The World Hockey Association in its seven years of existence between 1972 and 1979 gave out seven championship trophies with a financial services company’s name attached to it. The financial services company was a division of an American defense and aerospace contractor. The financial company, which still operates, gave the league a reported $500,000 annually for that right.
The NHL will have the ads on the helmets and the new names for the divisions in place when the season starts but even the best laid plans of mice and men go awry like it did in 1973 for the WHA. The league championship trophy was not finished for the final game of the 1973 World Hockey Association final round on May 6th in Boston. The league wanted to hand out a trophy with a cup sitting on a cylinder of clear Lucite with a globe of silver suspended inside the Lucite. That was atop of another cylinder with a base. The New England Whalers owner Howard Baldwin found out there would be no trophy presentation and that would not stand. “We knew we were going to win, so we bought our own trophy and gave it to the Commissioner Gary Davidson and he gave it to us on the Boston Garden ice.” Baldwin kept the trophy he bought.