The NHL has sold naming rights for its divisions. Starting later this month, teams will face off in the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division and the Mass Mutual NHL East Division. It looks and sounds weird right now, but it's probably the future of sports and it is definitely the future of the NHL. Not that everyone wants to believe it.
American sports have been kind of weird about sponsorship, despite the fact that everything surrounding every game is branded. While entire uniforms in other countries are basically made of corporate logos, the idea of adding a simple patch was met with severe pearl-clutching. Now we have divisions with sponsors. This is one step away from the Yankees putting names on the back of their jerseys.
What is wrong with the NHL? Do they not care about tradition? Why, the West, North, Central and East Divisions have existed since this season. I'm just glad they didn't try to get sponsors for the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific divisions which had been around since basically the turn of the century (2013) and are returning... next season when the Seattle Kraken join the league.
Can you imagine a bank sponsoring the Atlantic, Northeast, Southeast, Central, Northwest or Pacific divisions? Those names really do go back to the previous century! Sure, they just added Northwest and Southeast in 1998, but you don't mess with tradition.
Unless you change your division names from the Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smyth divisions in the Wales and Campbell Conference. Those names have history dating back to 1974. Of course, before that it was just the East and West divisions. It's easy to understand why the idea of sullying these sacred divisions is just too much.
Or this doesn't matter at all. This is a league that changes the names of its divisions or realigns every one to nine years. People do realize the league's storied original six teams play in TD Garden, Little Caesars Arena, Centre Bell, Scotiabank Arena, and Madison Square Garden, which can be quickly accessed through Chase Entrances at MSG, right?
Eventually, one of these teams will fold or move and they'll have to do this all over again and if they're lucky there will still be companies in a position to buy the naming rights to the Smytheastern WestyGretzky divisions or whatever the heck they decided to call them for that half of the decade.