In Toronto, Curtis Rush noted Canadiens D P.K. Subban on Friday "weighed in on criticism leveled" at Maple Leafs D Dion Phaneuf, "who often dons a Red Bull cap when before the cameras," by former MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie." Peddie last week said, "I would expect better from a captain." Subban responded, "There’s nothing wrong with (wearing branded logos). This is [the] new NHL. It’s not like it was 20 or 25 years ago." Subban, who was named to the Canadian Olympic team, "has several personal sponsors including Nike." He said, "It’s not that guys don't respect the team's logo. Guys have endorsement deals now and they're paid to wear certain stuff." Canadiens G Carey Price said, "We're branded as an NHL club, but at the same time we're all professionals and we all have our own deals. It's all player preference." Price is "sponsored by Under Armour and feels an obligation to support their gear when he can." Price: "I feel if I wear a T-shirt (for a sponsor) that's enough" (TORONTO STAR 1/18).
LIGHTNING ROD: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir wrote suspended Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez now "has almost nothing to pitch" in terms of marketability. Although Rodriguez "has not lost his endorsements rapidly," several of his deals "eventually ended." Some campaigns "simply ran their course," but some companies "chose not to renew their ties" to Rodriguez. A Nike spokesperson said that the brand "did not re-enlist with Rodriguez after his deal ended" in '09, but still "occasionally gives him apparel." Spokespeople for Rodriguez "declined to say what endorsements he still has, if any." Rodriguez's Q score among sports fans last September "had fallen to a 12," while teammate SS Derek Jeter "led all baseball players with a 27." The negative Q Score serves as "an even broader measure of how Rodriguez is viewed." Rodriguez' negative Q from '03-13 "soared to a 49 from a 24" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).
A HOT COMMODITY: Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori lost his fourth-round match in the Australian Open to Rafael Nadal today, but ESPN's Darren Cahill noted Nishikori is "one of the wealthiest young men in tennis." He has 11 "key sponsorships, ranging from Uniqlo, the company that he is wearing with his clothes, to Adidas shoes, to Wilson tennis rackets, to Delta Airlines." Cahill: "He’s No. 3 or 4 behind Nadal, Djokovic and Federer in money earned off the court in tennis.” ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale: “Third largest economy in the world, Japan, and he is a huge celebrity there" ("Australian Open," ESPN2, 1/20).
BEATING AROUND THE BUSCH: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch said that he "expects to have 'a pretty good indication' by the end of January if he will make what he expects will be his last attempt to enter the Indianapolis 500." Busch said that he "has a 'couple of strong leads for advertising partners' but is concerned over a lack of testing time and that the Indianapolis 500 is the first oval event" on the '14 IndyCar schedule (ESPN.com, 1/17).