In December, the NHL revealed that they are set to allow teams to put sponsors on helmets for the 2021 regular season. The next step in increased advertising efforts for the league came on Tuesday when they announced that the naming rights to divisions were officially being sold off.
For the 2021 season, the four divisions will officially be known as:
- Scotia NHL North Division
- Honda NHL West Division
- Discover NHL Central Division
- MassMutual NHL East Division
The league appears to be not too cynical about this whole move considering, according to a report from ESPN, that this campaign is just meant to last for one year. This is the second thing about the divisions this season that will exist for this year only, as they have all been realigned as a result of travel restrictions between the United States and Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All the Canadian teams, for example, are grouped into the North Division.
This is also the second notable aesthetic change the league has made with regards to sponsorships. Another first is how player helmets will feature advertisements for the first time, with 13 teams having already announced sponsorship rights through Tuesday, though most are directly connected to the naming rights of the arenas where these teams play.
While there hasn’t been an official reason for why the divisions and helmets have been sold off to advertisers, the prevailing belief is because of a purported shortfall in revenue from the NHL. The league, like others, is reliant on ticket sales, which have obviously not been happening as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.