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Written by ItO_Staff | 13 May 2011

In the last hour, news broke that ESPN Hockey personality Matthew Barnaby was arrested and charged with domestic violence. While it may come as a surprise to some, ESPN has had a horrible track record in keeping the waters calm in Bristol. Besides this latest incident, there have been other ESPN personalities to suffer a downward spiral such as Steve Philips and Jay Mariotti (just to name a few). It is amazing to me how many ESPN employees create horrible headlines in the news. It seems as if once things become peaceful, someone else is arrested and charged.

The real story is how this arrest will affect the perception of NHL players in the national media. And while I agree that you cannot make sweeping generalities to apply to every player, it wouldn't surprise me to see an article or two that knock hockey players. Consider this just another piece of wood to throw in a fire that surrounds the league in concussion talk, disciplinary miscues, and franchise instability. This year hasn't been the best for the league off the ice despite the recent success and excitement of the on ice product during the playoffs.

This incident comes a weeks after the National Hockey League came to terms with Comcast on a new television deal. One can only imagine the PR nightmare the league would have to deal with if this was the first step together in a new partnership (not saying it isn't a PR nightmare, but the NHL is now affected indirectly as opposed to directly). Maybe in the end, NHL actually did something right for once by going with Comcast and splitting the majority air time on NBC and Versus. ESPN surely isn't willing to give the NHL the time it deserves and with this latest personality setback, the coverage will fall even more. For the sake of hockey coverage, lets hope that the next hire will be a better choice.

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In other news, I regret to report that New York Rangers' forward Derek Boogaard passed away this morning at the age of 28. Reports state that Mr. Boogaard was found in his apartment by family members. It is still unclear as to the cause of death. Breaking stories such as these take away our words and evaluate what is truly important in our lives. An incredibly sad story - please keep the entire Boogaard family in your thoughts and prayers.

What a horrible day for hockey.

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Written by ITO_Staff | 11 May 2011

All the dedicated NHL fans out there have already seen the news.  The last 24 hours have been a blessing and a curse for what seems to be a divided league wide fan base.  It looks as if the Phoenix Coyotes will be staying in Arizona for at least one more year. The city of Glendale has approved to pay the $25 million dollar price tag in operating costs to keep the Coyotes alive in Arizona. This transaction will buy the NHL time to find a stable owner for this troubled franchise. An additional year might not be enough time, but for now, it keeps the Winnipeg citizens at bay. Or does it?

With the Coyotes off of table for the 2011-2012 season, those same Canadians might turn their sights to another ailing franchise. The next wave of commotion could be set towards the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers are yet another team that is up for sale given that the current owners, the Atlanta Spirit Group, are bleeding money. The unstable franchise hasn’t proven to be a wise move for the National Hockey League since their inception back in 1999. The team has only made the playoffs once in their recent history and things are looking sour in The Big Peach.

Look into the league a little deeper and you could find more teams that could be on the move such as the New York Islanders or the Columbus Blue Jackets But before the sun sheds its rays and scorches other franchises, the commissioner should provide shade by releasing statements on a plan of action. Time and time again, the NHL doesn’t really take a proactive step in establishing a set standard (I mean, just look at the punishment system for Exhibit A). If I were a league board member, I would urge Mr. Bettman to release these statements to the public in one form or another:

  • No franchise will move for the 2011-2012 season. Given the fact that it is already May, a sudden franchise move would undercut the league as a whole and diminishes the quality of the product on and off the ice. If we are going to move a franchise, we’re going to take the time and energy to do it right. Rushing the process won’t create league stability.
  • The franchise bidding for relocation for the 2012-2013 regular season will begin in mid-October. At that point the league will look at a few selected franchises that could move. Please note that even if we look at a franchise, there is no guarantee that it moves. A lot of the work will fall in the realm of housekeeping.
  • If the league deems a team should move based on ownership instability or other factors, the league will come to a conclusion for the 2012-2013 season at the end of February 2012.  From that point until August, if a team is designated for assignment, the lengthy process will begin. Until that final decision, the league will not comment or address any relocation questions or subjects.

After releasing these statements, it would be wise to start meeting with each troubled franchise behind closed doors over the summer. At that time, you can evaluate the likelihood of a club changing cities. The last thing you want to do is to take away the focus on the 2011-2012 season. Remember: next season is the only thing that is concrete at this point (for everyone). The focus of the league and club employees should be on next season and next season only. If anyone should be thrown out into the sun to take the heat, it should be the commissioner and the league board of governors.

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Written by ItO_Staff | 08 April 2011

When it comes to promotion, I really don’t like giving shout-outs unless I think someone can benefit from the information I’m passing along (it doesn’t always have to be me). I usually like to research and see who has what and why should I look into it. Today is one of those days where I found something that a lot of people can enjoy.

If you’re familiar with the Bloguin network, then you might have seen a Pittsburgh Penguins blog by the name of The Pensblog. I’ve been visiting their blog off and on for a couple years now. They’re an interesting group of guys that could easily offend you or brighten your day with a few laughs. While they are serious in their work, they often make sure people lighten up about the day to day rumblings of the NHL. When it all comes down to it, we’re all bloggers covering a sports game. Have fun, make your points when it counts, but don’t be afraid to mix it up.

Last year they debuted a new fantasy game that capitalizes on your hockey knowledge and expertise. The game is called Rinkotology: Quest For The Cup

RinkotologyBanner

I sat on the sidelines in the first two times it was used (2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs) but will throw my two cents of opinions into the mix this time around. I think this is a great way for fans to concentrate on other teams besides their own (obviously I’m a big fan of looking at the league as a whole).

Want to enter? Just click the link below. Be quick though, because time is running out. Remember: this is all in good fun. If you win? Great. If you lose? Well, hopefully $10 won’t make or break you.

RINKOTOLOGY

For updates on Rickotology, you can find them on Twitter: @Rinkotology

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Written by Ice the Office Staff | 31 March 2011

Some time ago I published a post that looked at the current state of pricing for NHL t-shirts. In the post, I argued that it would be beneficial for NHL teams to adjust online price of t-shirts based on the team’s standings. Those who were at the bottom of the league as well those in financial trouble should lower basic apparel in order to boost merchandise revenue. By giving the fans the option to purchase t-shirts at a lower cost, you give yourself the chance to build a stronger image within the city that the franchise is in. The more people that wear the team logo – the better.

You can find that post by clicking here.

Today I thought I’d bring up another point to boost merchandise sales. But instead of asking the National Hockey League and its franchises to lower prices, I am asking for them to consider modifying the options in merchandise ordering.

Any die-hard hockey fan will tell you that they have a small collection of hockey jerseys. At least once during their lifetime they’ve ordered/bought their own jersey through the Shop NHL website or at a local store. The hockey jersey is the ultimate “purchasing leap of faith” for the fan. They find their favorite player and proceed to buy their jersey. They always run the risk of seeing that player traded or walk away in free agency. In many cases, this is one of the main reasons fans don’t buy jerseys.

The problem for franchises out there is to find a way to convince that fan that buying a jersey is the right idea. One way to solve the problem is to find a franchise player and lock the player for years to come. If you can’t lure one to your team, you can always promote the blank jersey you see online – but that just doesn’t seem far enough.

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Written by ItO Staff | 04 March 2011

About two weeks ago, the NHL ran a story about a new social media initiative by the New Jersey Devils called ‘Mission Control’. To sum it up, the Devils created an office just for tracking and engaging Devils fans within the social media world. From computers, to iPads, to TVs – this room has all the gadgets. To fill the room with workers, the organization chose 25 elite fans to help the cause with one full time employee in the room at all times. Many are calling this a great step for sports teams to dive into the world of social media headfirst. With constant monitoring and tracking, the organization can focus on engaging the fans and those that matter most to the Devils organization.

Devil_Mission_Control

Seeing a professional sports franchise create and dedicate and entire program for their social media efforts is amazing. But following their two steps of positive progress comes mountains of ethical problems. The fans that volunteer for this position are just that. Volunteers. They are not compensated for their efforts.

Richard Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment, should be ashamed for taking advantage of the fans and the free labor he receives. In his opening remarks, he cited that Gatorade did something similar with their company. For whatever reason, he forgot to mention that Gatorade uses their mission control for their marketing department and the employees that they hire. Need I remind the Mr. Krezwick that social media monitoring isn’t easy and can often be very time consuming. It takes a lot of work.

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Written by Ice the Office Staff | 28 February 2011

Ice the Office continues to take a look at the proper way to use Twitter with the third post in our series today. I’ll be focusing on engaging the audience that follows your team.

On a side note, I am happy to report that I’ve seen some improvements in the past few weeks with a few NHL teams on twitter. There are teams that are adding parts of the suggestions I’ve been giving. Whether or not someone actually read my posts is up for debate. Quite frankly, I could be delusional. But no matter what the case is, it is refreshing to see teams finally step up.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 in this series, you can find them by clicking the link below:

Part 1: Proper beginnings
Part 2: Covering an NHL game by tweets.

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Tweet Me Hard National Hockey League: Part 3


There are ideas floating around the internet that state that in order to get the most out of Twitter, you need to engage the people around you. Those that share the most interesting information will attract the masses. In other words, it can easily be said that if you tweet it, they will retweet it. Or reply. And maybe even follow you.

It is amazing to watch the banter that goes on through Twitter. Those who are stacked behind the keyboard develop an unwavering amount of confidence and aggression. Since they cannot be physically hurt arguing on a screen, swords are drawn and the slicing commences.

Never fear! I’m sure that the person you put to control your team’s twitter account has the knowledge to navigate the storm. If you don’t, you might need to read Part 1 of this series again. But if you are ready to accept that tweeting is not a one way street, the first thing you can do to interact with the fans is:

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Written by Ice the Office Staff | 20 February 2011

Ice the Office continues to take a look at the proper way to use Twitter with the second post in our series today. This time, I’ll be addressing the use of twitter during a game setting.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), there are still plenty of teams that don’t post tweets during a game. They really don’t engage the fans out there who are glued to their phones or computers during the game. Personally, I think there are missed opportunities there, especially for those who cannot watch the game and are checking the score through twitter.

If you’re not sure how to approach the subject, you’ve come to the right post. Also, if you missed Part 1 in the series you can find the post here.

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Tweet Me Hard National Hockey League: Part 2

As the example game, let us use the February 15, 2011 game in where the San Jose Sharks took on the Nashville Predators in Nashville. This game gave me great examples of goals as well as when things are going fairly slow. The score ended up being 2-1 San Jose in OT.

Using Ice the Office’s twitter account, here is how Nashville should have handled their account during the game in a BASIC format. You can obviously do much more tweeting than just these steps, but I’m showing you how to get the puck sliding.

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Written by Ice The Office Staff | 14 February 2011

I waited. And waited some more. 

I walked around my room for quite some time but I knew there was no way of getting around it. There it was, staring me square in the face. The big pink overweight elephant in the room, appropriately wearing both the Penguin and Islander logos. I suppose there is nothing more to do than to address what happened this weekend and give my opinions on the matter.

But before I even begin, I know my opinion truly doesn’t matter. I’m one of thousands of bloggers that will give a statement and try to push the blame target around. I’m not posting this to provoke fights or make an effort to prove something. These are my thoughts and my thoughts alone.

The Dark Twisted Nightmare

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We all saw it. It was the train wreck we couldn’t turn away from. Players were being ejected left and right. Punches were given out like free candy at a fourth of July parade. What hockey fans witnessed on Friday February 11th was nothing short of a disaster.

On that night two National Hockey League teams faced off in New York City. The NY Islanders were hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins in a regularly scheduled matchup. By the end of the game, the players on the ice from both teams combined could not field a full NHL roster.

First and foremost, I’m highly disappointed with Colin Campbell and the rest of the NHL executives. They failed to see the train coming. Yes, there is no way they could have seen a disaster of this magnitude but they never set examples in the past. In fact there was one incident they turned a blind eye on. The incident? The Montreal Canadiens vs. the Boston Bruins. on 2-9-2011. Two days before the Fall of New York happened.

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Written by Ice The Office Staff | 11 February 2011

There comes a time where you think certain technology and websites become second nature. For many of us, Twitter has changed our lives and we can stick handle in a phone booth with our twitter abilities. But every time I think that this social media program doesn’t need to be taught, humanity rears its ugly head and shows me more train wreck twitter business accounts.

I know that tweeting isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like twitter, I am ok with that. However, if you are responsible for a professional twitter account, you need to fully understand everything about this social media avenue. As someone who has been working with twitter for almost two years, I know what it takes to run a smooth ship. Not only do I have two accounts myself, but have had companies outsource their twitter accounts to me.

Based on my observations, there are teams out there that could use some help. The NHL may have figured things out at HQ by hiring Gary Vaynerchuck for consulting work, but the tips and tricks certainly didn’t spread across the league. There are no shortcuts here. Without further delay, lets examine the twitter basics.

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Tweet Me Hard National Hockey League: Part 1

Twitter is a social networking website that focuses on interaction between multiple users in a real time format. It can be used between friends to have daily conversations, between companies to share business instructions, or it can be used in a business to consumer model. The last model (business to consumer) is what the National Hockey League falls under. It is a way for the league and its club teams to share information on the team, individual players, and events that are coming up.

There are a few things that every team front office and NHL executive should know:

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Written by Ice The Office Staff | 09 February 2011

In a 30-team league, there are bound to be franchises that find themselves on the lower end of the totem poll. In most cases, these teams fall because they cannot put a winning product on the ice. There are also other cases where a team cannot build a solid foundation in a specific city.

Without dealing with the on ice product are there ways to change things in order to help the franchise? Are there certain formulas a team could follow to experience short term relief? I believe that there are. And it could be in merchandising.

Fans love to represent their favorite teams by wearing numerous items such as jerseys, hats, shirts, socks, and sweatshirts. Fans can purchase these at almost any surrounding sports store or NHL arena. When you visit any of the arenas, you’ll notice that prices in those stores are marked up due to the fact that the sales have to cover for the costs of the employee’s wage, store space, and electricity in the store. They’re also marked up a bit probably because they’re trying to play into people’s sense of instant gratification. If fans see it and want it, they’ll most likely put out the money for it.

When you compare the NHL across the board, there are four other leagues in the United States that have the potential to take away revenue from the NHL. These leagues sway customer focus on an NHL franchise and could damage the team. Let us look at basic merchandise for all five leagues. In the list below, you’ll see the cost for a basic t-shirt with the team logo on the chest. The names and numbers on the back have been excluded. Also in this scenario, I’m examining base prices and holding off taxes.

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