John Tavares is coming home and the Toronto Maple Leafs are one step closer to ending their 51-year Stanley Cup drought.
With a 7 year, $77 million contract in hand, and a chance to fulfill a childhood dream, it was a Happy Canada Day for Tavares.
The Leafs offer a world-class organization with state-of-the-art facilities, strong management, a young core of players, and a permanent home arena address – a welcomed contrast to the situation in Long Island at the moment. The Islanders may have finally improved their front office issues, but fans and players will have to be patient while they work on their arena problem. The new arena in Belmont Park will take years to complete, meaning the team’s home games will be split between the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum for the foreseeable future.
But Tavares won’t have to wait long to see this move’s impact on his career. Toronto offers a number of intriguing opportunities for Tavares to build his brand, increase his earning potential, and solidify his legacy as one of the game’s great players.
On Long Island, Tavares was – outside of a morning highlight reel or Team Canada appearance – more or less out of sight, out of mind for the average Canadian hockey fan. But on July 1, he instantly became the face of the most popular hockey team in the world. Toronto is the “mecca of hockey”, and you can be sure Rogers will take full advantage of the intrigue surrounding this instalment of the Leafs and give Tavares and co. an abnormal – even by Toronto standards – amount of national TV coverage starting next season.
Growing a Following
Jumping from one or two appearances on Hockey Night in Canada with the Islanders to 40+ with the Leafs represents a significant opportunity for Tavares to become a household name in Canada and build a social media following far more substantial than was possible while playing in New York.
Between June 30 and July 2, his Twitter following jumped 32% and 56% of tweets mentioning Tavares came from Canada. He’ll soon join Nazem Kadri as the only two Leafs with 200,000+ followers on Twitter. While the Big Apple is the largest media market in the world, the Islanders are competing with the Rangers, Devils, Giants, Jets, Knicks, and Nets – not to mention MLS – for eyeballs in New York. In Toronto, Tavares and the Leafs will be the main attraction.
Landing Endorsement Deals
The Leafs have not had a bonafide star in their prime since Mats Sundin. As a result, Canadian brands have turned to Toronto’s other sports properties for endorsement opportunities. For example, Jose Bautista with Booster Juice, and Jonas Valanciunas with GoDaddy. Meanwhile, Tim Horton’s and Canadian Tire tapped into marquee NHL players playing south of the border such as Sidney Crosby, Nate MacKinnon, and Jonathan Toews as a way to connect with Canadian customers. The arrival of Tavares represents a homegrown star – someone who can appeal to Torontonians, Canadians, and brands.
Tavares’s ability to cash in on the situation will only be limited to the number of Timbits he’s willing to eat or Blizzak Tires he’s ready to recommend to family, friends, and fans. Though his new teammates and the childhood dream may have been what sealed this deal, the sky is the limit in Toronto when it comes to growing his brand and legacy.
Adam Puddicombe is a digital marketing professional who, by day, works in the ad agency world, and by night, covers the intersection of Canadian sports, media, and technology. Adam holds a degree in commerce, with a focus in marketing, and previously worked for Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! and the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL.