A great salesman can sell ice to an Eskimo. A bad one couldn’t give 20 dollar bills away. Which one is the NHL–the second unfortunately.
The NHL has a perfect opportunity to build on the fan interest in hockey generated by the US vs. Canada gold metal game. It could but it won’t.
The league has the worst record for marketing of any major sport. The NHL marketing guys make those that work for MLB look bright and that isn’t easy. So what will these pinheads do to build on the Olympics? Probably nothing. They will go back to the Verses network and go back to sleep without one thought about what could be done. So what can they do?
First, focus promotion on the individual heroes of the Olympics. The league has some nice young stars but needs to take a lesson from the NBA on how to take advantage of them. They need their stars like Nash and Crosby to become the face of the league. The league needs to get these guys on TV talk shows and that would involve time off which the league did not plan into the schedule.
The coverage of the final game got huge numbers which were double or triple most NHL playoff games. The league should give the game of the week to one of the major broadcast TV networks at no charge. The numbers of most shows on network TV particularly NBC are lousy so the network would have nothing to lose and something to gain. The deal must include a deal for a contract for next season if the numbers reach an agreed upon level. That game should be between top teams and highlight the Olympic players.
The league should work with the agents of the players to develop spokesman deals for them. The more the stars of the league get face time on TV the more likely it is that the league will catch the attention of the US.
The league should spend money on ESPN and broadcast networks promoting their game. They don’t have much advertising now. They need to let non-hockey fans know when teams are playing and where they can see the games.
The individual teams that are not filling their areas need to get help promoting their local team. Having been a marketing consultant for 40 years I volunteered to help our local team and was told they are doing fine. Less than 3 months later the team was talking about moving because they are losing money and can’t sell all their tickets. The league needs to provide more marketing help and should get seasoned professionals to do it.
But as we know from experience, the NHL will do nothing and let the opportunity go to waste. That is what they do best.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on
and edits .