We all stand here gathered today to watch the USS Roger Goodell set sail for unknown waters. In last night’s farewell ceremony, Green Bay quarterback gave a rousing sendoff as he smacked the ship with the Vince Lombardi trophy. This is a journey that will test the intelligence, patience, and negotiation abilities of those on board. The owners, players, and fans all watch carefully in hopes that the ship comes back in one piece. With a new CBA as its target, safety isn’t guaranteed.
Stashed away in the belly of the ship is a stowaway that will continue to hide until the deal is complete. That man is NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. His purpose isn’t to get involved. Rather, the best thing for this secret admirer is to watch without touching. For you see, he will be experiencing similar things as his league will be negotiating a new CBA in 2012.
For all the NHL fans out there, we hope that Bettman takes as many notes as he can. Before the ship even set sail, there were golden opportunities to learn from. If he hasn’t taken notice yet, let us run through a few things that he should pick up based on what has happened already.
There is an old saying that continues to go around that states that when a team, it solves most, if not all, problems. From an on ice perspective, the statement is correct. When a team wins, players don’t seem to bicker with each other and we see less of the coach blowing their stack at the players. When a team wins the Stanley Cup, all sour thoughts and actions go out the window for at least a few months. But have you ever thought that winning on the ice brings about success in the media departments of a team?
As an employee of a team, it seems too good to be true when your team wins the cup. The league office hands off what seems like a solid gold staff to lead the fan base. This opportunity is one of those moments that cannot fail. I mean, lets be serious, you just won the Cup. The work ahead of you has just been mapped out like a trip to Disney World. Right?
Winning doesn’t exactly solve everything off the ice. But it doesn’t hurt it either. The real test for each NHL franchise is to capture the energy that is bread from winning. There are teams that succeed, fail, and succeed despite the wrong decisions. Let us take a moment and measure a winning product against the relatively new media outreach program known as Twitter.
In association with the 2011 All Star game, the NHL rolled out a new initiative that put the league in an unfamiliar light. With the help of comic book writer and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics Stan Lee, the duo launched a super hero personality for every team in the NHL. During one of the intermissions in the game, these super hero personalities were showcased in a short film that brought each of them to life.
I suppose that this idea was green lighted by the NHL in attempt to attract those that grew up around the comic book era and the young fans that still read the cartoons. Whatever the case might’ve been, the project took a quick dive once the guardians were being introduced due to lack of acceptance through most of the NHL fan base. By the time of the release of the short film, the guardians had taken enough abuse from the online community that could’ve lasted a lifetime. The overall success of the project seemed to be high in the Youth/Toddler sections but for everyone else, I’m going assume that it greatly underachieved. If the end goal was to only attract the youth fan base, one could claim that the mission was accomplished.
Another thing that I would assume is that the amount of time and resources spent on overall were pretty high. From illustrations to interactive websites, this venture crossed all the t’s and dotted every i. I commend the joint effort between the NHL and POW! Entertainment Inc. The idea was very thorough and I liked the fact that it was a bit out in left field. But throughout the entire release, it didn’t match up to the hype.
For those of us that want to move on to next year, let me suggest my own solution for reaching out to the fan base.
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
By now I’m sure every hockey fan has seen or at least heard of the top hockey story from last night. It is almost unavoidable to glance through any sports page and not see a title or a picture that references the goalie fight between Pittsburgh Penguins backup goaltender Brent Johnson and New York Islanders starting goaltender Rick DiPietro.
The one punch extravaganza only needed a few seconds to play out but those few seconds took the world by storm.
After the game had passed, the news spread like a disease. The words Brent Johnson, Goalie Fight, and DiPetro instantly became worldwide trending topics on Twitter. Total strangers to the game of hockey most likely went to YouTube to find the evidence. Bloggers began researching goalie fights and how often they appear, which ultimately led to Houses Of the Hockey taking a look at famous goalie fights. Believe it or not, for a few hours, the NHL was the main attraction in media.
But before anyone can claim a boost in coverage, this isn’t the story you want your league to be represented by. In reality, the casual fan and general public didn’t care about the outcome of the game. Rather, their focus was on the anomaly.
Should the NHL do something about it and ban goalie fights? No. The way the game is set up, I believe that the players can police themselves in terms of fighting matchups. In the rare instance that goalies do fight, don’t stop it. But the NHL does need to monitor fights to make sure these types of fights do not break out just for the sake of fighting (see KHL). There needs to be purpose – otherwise you’re putting the sport on the same level as Ringling Brothers Circus.no comments
In August of every year, the NHL season kicks off behind closed doors. While the players do not report and start playing until September, the NHL and club offices are hard at work creating financial goals, marketing plans, and standard practices that employees follow during the season. There are numerous subjects that are discussed, dissected, and finalized. A lot of the options discussed in these meetings never see the light of day. As fans we only see the final choice in the commercials, the contracts, the uniforms, and the overall representation of the NHL to the world.
Somewhere along the line in the 30-team system poor decisions are made, bad contracts are signed, and the teams are left to clean up their own mess. Any fan can openly criticize an organization for their choices. It happens every day. But how many fans can take away the emotion of their loyalty to analyze these decisions for what they truly are while providing their own solutions?
Welcome to Ice the Office where I try to do just that. This will be a blog that focuses on the state of the NHL and hockey in the United States through off ice issues such as marketing, public relations, design, social media, and business development. In my examination, I’ll be posting my own thoughts and alternative solutions. At some points this blog might venture into the international game as well as the state of hockey in the world.
But before I get started with the discussions, I think there is something that needs to be pointed out. I believe that there is one rule that everyone (NHL Offices and fans alike) should grasp:no comments