WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the 2021 NHL season starting in less than three weeks, the Washington Capitals, Virginia's favorite professional hockey team, became one of the first two teams planning to brandish advertisements on players' helmets.
The franchise, with corporate headquarters in Virginia, announced this week that Capital One has become the team's first sponsor. The Capitals have played home games at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., since December 1997.
Decals of the Capital One logo measuring 2.25 inches by 3.75 inches will be visible on both sides of players' helmets (where the team logo used to be).
The New Jersey Devils, advertising Prudential, and Nashville Predators, advertising Bridgestone, have also announced the implementation of helmet decals starting in January.
The 2021 NHL season is slated to conclude in mid-July, following a 56-game regular season and a four-round playoff featuring best-of-seven series between the four leading teams from each of the four new divisions—the league underwent a division realignment over the 2020 offseason as well.
Helmet advertisements have arrived in the wake of a historically-low year for NHL revenue in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. That, coupled with launching the league's 32nd expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, has put a strain on finances in an organization pulling in far less than the NFL or NBA.
The Kraken is set to start league play in less than a year, for the season ending in 2022, following a stint in the NHL expansion draft July 23.
Despite necessitating a new revenue stream to recover from a season cut short in early 2020, fans have expressed concern that the NHL could become too commercialized.
Dissenters vocalized a worry that over-commercialization will lead to advertisements on jerseys and more, souring the fan experience.
The 2021 season will debut Jan. 13.