No ads on hockey jerseys (yet); Rangers experiment with computer chips

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One can almost sense the NHL tipping its toes in the ads-on-jerseys waters by merely putting a number on what they rejected. TSN’s Rick Westhead reports that the league passed on an opportunity to make “at least $120 million” by allowing corporate sponsors to feature their logos prominently on hockey sweaters.

It sounds like it’s only a matter of time before this happens, however.

“Gary (Bettman) and owners like the money, but they don’t want to be first out of the box with this in North America,” An anonymous source told TSN. “They’ll wait for the NBA or baseball to do it and then be second or third.”

Different sort of changes are coming to jerseys and the way advertisements are displayed at NHL games, however.

Another step for fancy stats?

The most fun angle for fans (and/or stat nerds) is that the New York Rangers are reportedly moving forward with an idea to place computer chips (possibly something like RFIDs) in jerseys to track movements on the ice. This might be a hint at the beginning of hockey’s version of the NBA’s involvement with SportsVu, which opened up an array of different ways to look at that sport.

Forbes’ Mike Colligan drops an interesting point about how the Rangers’ interest in the technology:

/Waits for inevitable Scott Gomez and Wade Redden jokes.

The next evolution in on-ice ads

Westhead passes along this interesting nugget:

During the meeting of NHL team presidents, NHL executive John Collins, who has fostered the league’s popular outdoor games, discussed plans to use technology to sell rink board ads in a different way. The so-called ‘erase and replace’ rink boards feature ads that can be replaced on TV, meaning the NHL can sell region-specific ads to advertisers. An NHL final could feature rink boards with Swedish ads for viewers in Stockholm, or Cyrillic ads for those in Russia.

Finally, out-of-town fans won’t get teased with Tim Horton’s ads quite as much.

While some of this talk probably reminds us of the creeping specter of commerce invading seemingly sacred areas of North American sports, one has to admit: a lot of this is also kinda cool.