Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey Sponsorship Doesn’t Sit Well

The Toronto Maple Leafs choice of Dairy Farmers of Ontario as their first jersey sponsor feels relatively innocuous.

Indeed, choosing a company that is literally just printing the word ‘milk’ onto the Toronto Maple Leafs jersey front by way of advertising is certainly unobtrusive.

However looking a bit deeper at the issue of jersey advertising – you start to realise that while the brand isn’t harmful, it does harm the prestige of an Original Six jersey.

Of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t the first Original Six team to agree to jersey sponsorship; the Montreal Canadiens will be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada; but it’s the deeper meaning of a Leafs jersey that makes this feel wrong.

Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey Origin Makes This Problematic

When you look back at the Toronto Maple Leafs history, the team adopted it’s current name when Conn Smythe purchased the club in 1927.

The team is named after Canada’s national symbol; Conn Smythe selecting the maple leaf because of his own personal association with it as a Canadian Army officer and as a ‘badge of courage’.

As such, it feels like allowing capitalism to impinge upon a jersey sporting that logo is in some way more wrong than say putting a sponsor on a Carolina Hurricanes jersey for example.

Now, this is said with the understanding that it’s another revenue stream and greater revenue league-wide should ultimately lead to greater cap increases, which might remove some of the limitations around the current roster build.

Regardless of the brand’s inoffensive nature and the fact that it’d actually be recognisable to Conn Smythe, having been founded in his lifetime; it still doesn’t feel right.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs truly want to have advertising on their jersey, perhaps they should consider placing it on the back.

After all, the players are playing for the crest on the front, not the name (or in the case of having a sponsor there – names) on the back of the jersey.

Alternately, why not place the advertising logo on the pants if the team are insistent on milking (pun intended) the extra revenue that uniform sponsorship inevitably brings.

With all this said, you can make plenty of arguments that a myriad of alternate, third and special occasion themed designs have already besmirched the club’s emblem but this feels different as it’s purely about money.

While times have changed and the need or want for jersey sponsorship is now prevalent among ownerships, teams should be taking a deep look at how much appetite their fan base actually has for such moves and whether there’s a way to meet in the middle.