Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ask Someone From South Dakota If They Know How to Spell "Jaromir"

People in Columbus couldn't do it 5 years ago, I wonder if they do now. Or even "Kris Russell", we'll ease 'em back in.

New York Times' Stu Hackel might want to spend less time blogging and open an atlas.

When critics try to explain what they feel is wrong with the N.H.L., they often say the league does not market its stars in the United States as other pro sports do. Showcase their personalities, the argument goes, and the N.H.L. will rise in popularity.

Who are "they"? I (notice no quotations) would say the NHL tries hard to promote Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, et al. The problem is the NHL is thought of as a 2nd rate sport. And don't give me that "one of the 4 major sports" stuff. The NHL has a lousy national TV deal and struggles to remain relevant to the generic sports fan. The are doing some good things. The Winter Classic is a hit. The Rangers did a top 10 on Letterman recently.

The NHL promotes within its own fanbase very well. The problem is again that enough people don't recognize hockey as an important sport. Soccer is a great example. MLS signed Beckham to a huge deal, then they ran ads on billboards in LA, in newspapers, on ESPN, and still no one cared.

Mr. Hackel isn't agreeing or disagreeing, but that is my 2 hundredths of a loonie.

Whether or not that is true, whether or not it is realistically possible and whether or not it would have an an appreciable impact is the subject for another post, but one thing is certain — as the Coyotes failure to sell tickets by making Wayne Gretzky their coach demonstrated — promoting the personality of someone other than a player is not likely to advance a team’s or a league’s profile.

Ok, sure, but having Wayne Gretzky as their coach sure did give them a little bit more face time. Maybe if they'd sucked less they would've had a profile "advance" but I think Gretzky being their coach at least allowed for the mention of their franchise in, like say, for example a blog in the New York Times or something.

So what’s with Toronto’s obsession with Brian Burke?

Hey, Stu, remember the good ol' days when you suggested the N.H.L. might be struggling to promote itself in the U S of A? And then you went and said Toronto was obsessed with Brian Burke?

There is a Toronto in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and South Dakota. There used to be a Toronto, Indiana, but according to its wikipedia page it's extinct. Probably because everyone lynched each other when the Leafs started off with 6 losses under Brian Burke.

Look, Toronto is a hockey mad city. In the U.S., people know who Mitch Kupchak, Donnie Nelson, Jerry Krause, Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, and Theo Epstein are because they are GMs/Executives for very popular US teams. In the NFL, the owner is often the GM. Maybe you've heard of Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft or Al Davis.

Anyway, he goes on to talk about how bad the Leafs are. They are bad, but how many words of Burke's the city of Toronto hangs on has nothing to do with the United States.

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