Blake Wheeler doesn't want ads 'tarnishing' NHL jerseys

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COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 9: Blake Wheeler #26 of Team USA looks to pass the puck during the first period of an exhibition game against Team Canada on September 9, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)
Blake Wheeler of Team USA looks to pass the puck during the first period of an exhibition game against Team Canada on September 9, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Getty Images)

TORONTO – USA forward Blake Wheeler gave a wry smile when asked what he thought about the SAP ad on his team jersey.

“I haven’t even noticed it,” Wheeler said. “I guess they hid it pretty good.”

In the past, Wheeler has been an outspoken opponent of ads on jerseys, calling a hockey sweater “sacred” and saying it was an “honor” to wear one.

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Wheeler, who plays for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, didn’t back off his stance but tried to sound more political about the possibility of ads being placed on NHL jerseys.

“First and foremost it’s a business. With that there’s going to have to be some creative ways to make money, I understand that and I think everyone has to be accepting towards change and some creative ways to try to increase the revenue pool,” Wheeler said. “I think there’s ways to do it without tarnishing kind of the look of the jerseys. Hopefully there can be a good balance.”

Wheeler’s initial reaction to ads on jerseys was in response to speculation that advertisements could be added after it was announced Adidas would become the official jersey maker of the NHL in 2017-18.

Nothing has been formally decided on this front, but all World Cup teams will have subtle SAP logos on their shoulders for the duration of this tournament. At the announcement that included this information, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shot down the idea that this would lead to ads on league jerseys.

“I am a believer in the history, tradition and exactly how special NHL sweaters are,” Bettman said.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr has said the World Cup is an “opportunity to experiment” on whether ads can be done in a “tasteful” way.

Former NHL COO John Collins said in Nov. 2014 that jersey sponsorships were “coming and happening.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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