NHL-League sells naming rights to four re-aligned divisions

The National Hockey League (NHL), which took a revenue hit last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Tuesday it has sold the naming rights to its four divisions for the first time. The move to sell naming rights to divisions that were once named after some of the founding fathers of the league before taking on geographical designations, follows a recent decision by the NHL to allow small advertisements on player helmets.

For the new season, which begins on Jan. 13, teams will play in the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division and the MassMutual NHL East Division, the league said in a news release. Due to COVID-19 and the closure of the U.S.-Canada border, the NHL sought to minimize team travel as much as possible and the 56-game regular season, down from the usual 82, will shift exclusively to intradivisional play.

To accommodate this plan, the NHL’s 31 teams will be split among three U.S.-based divisions and one all-Canadian division. Last month, Forbes said the average value of NHL franchises declined for the first time since 2001 as the COVID-19 pandemic robbed teams of critical revenue.

The NHL held 85% of its regular season games with fans last season before suspending the campaign in March due to COVID-19. Play resumed nearly five months later with a post-season held at neutral sites and behind closed doors.

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