The term is "Paid Patriotism", an idea brought up by senators Jeff Flake and John McCain which describes the practice of US Military organizations paying professional sports teams for pro-military displays designed to look more like thanking the troops than marketing campaigns.
Today, the senators unveiled the report, showing $10.4M in military spending on such displays since 2012. While much of the (known) money was spent on the NFL, all four major sports leagues, MLS soccer, NASCAR, and more were listed as having contracts with various military agencies.
The Detroit Red Wings were one of six NHL teams listed, having received $41,500 in contracts from the US Air Force over fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Here's how that money came:
There is one very large glaring problem with this report that I have yet to figure out: There was no Red Wings game on December 10th, 2012. The NHL lockout prevented any games from being played on that date. It's unclear whether this represents a typo or a contract that might have been canceled or altered.
We do know that the Wings held four "Military Monday" games during that lockout-shortened season. It's possible that this was the result of that contract, but we have not been able to verify that.
Senators Flake and McCain explain their problem with the concept of paid patriotism in their report:
By paying for such heartwarming displays like recognition of wounded warriors, surprise homecomings, and on-field enlistment ceremonies, these displays lost their luster. Unsuspecting audience members became the subjects of paid-marketing campaigns rather than simply bearing witness to teams' authentic, voluntary shows of support for the brave men and women who wear our nation's uniform. This not only betrays the sentiment and trust of fans, but casts an unfortunate shadow over the genuine patriotic partnerships.
This is not to say the Red Wings don't support the troops or that all of their support for the military over the last three years has been paid for, but it is interesting to learn.