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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cold Hard Rants

Earlier this week, as I was surfing the web while relaxing after a hard day’s night in the business world, I surfed my way over to SI.com. I checked out my usual columnists (Banks, King, and Zimmerman), took a second to gather myself at the inordinate arrogance that frequently spews forth from Dr. Z (he would fit right in on the Worldwide Leader™ with his shameful self promotion and insistence that he is the actual story), and then surfed over to their daily web/blog links. Now, very rarely does the NHL ever get any promotion in the blogs highlighted on SI, so that’s why this post from the blog Low Percentage Shot caught my eye (btw props to Low Percentage Shot for blogrolling us good folk at Illegal Curve.)

In the post, the brains behind Low Percentage argues that the NHL needs to do a much better job at promoting itself, and one of the best ways it can begin to do so is by highlighting the romantic dalliances between it’s players and some of Hollywood’s leading ladies. While I am willing to predict that the Low Percentage blog was being somewhat tongue in cheek in it’s suggestion, it led me to ask (to myself) why doesn’t the NHL do a better job at promoting itself? In fact, best as I can tell, the NHL doesn’t do any promotion of itself at all! The only NHL marketing campaigns I can think of in the past couple of years is the “Coolest Game on Ice campaign”, and the “Warrior Series” that the geniuses came up with to promote the NHL restart after the strike/lockout/clusterf*ck. To say that the Warrior Series was an abject failure, almost to the point of it being comical in how bad it was, is an understatement along the lines of George W. Bush has had some mis-steps in his presidency.

I think most sports fans would readily admit that NHL players are some of the best athletes currently participating in professional sports. Hockey players possess an impressive combination of strength, speed, and agility and they demonstrate so on a blade the size of my pinky finger. (For those that don’t know me, my pinky finger is a regular sized pinky, not some grotesque amalgam of a finger and a pituitary gland disorder.) Why the NHL doesn’t do a better job of promoting its players is another one of those decisions made by NHL higher-ups that boggles the mind.

The list of mis-steps taken by the NHL (both in a marketing perspective and not) is longer than the list of girls who have had their heart’s broken by Illegal Curve’s own Richy P. Yet, their biggest mistake may be the fact that in all the years it has been around, it has created exactly one star that has transcended hockey and become a household name. That, of course, is W. Gretzky, and the odds that the perfect storm that resulted in him becoming a star re-occurring is slim to nil. So, in hindsight, maybe Low Percentage is on to something. Why shouldn’t the NHL start promoting the relationships between its players and Hollywood Starlets? NHL Players on the red carpets. NHL players taking out the trash and appearing in whichever awful gossip magazine has that “they are just like us” section. NHL players involved in love triangles. The NHL should begin to market their players to teenage girls, and the “in crowd” in Hollywood. The worst-case scenario is it doesn’t work and they end up with the same amount of publicity they usually get (that would be none.) It’s time the NHL begins to think outside of the box. Lord knows their current thought process of, “duh” hasn’t worked so far.

For Illegal Curve, I am Andrew M.

About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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