..because clearly, it would be me who could solve hockey’s image problem. I was talking with some of my friends last evening (over those fabulous pre-Thanksgiving foods, mind you) about hockey. One of these friends is from Atlanta, and when the subject of hockey came up, she made the requisite statement that the Atlanta Thrashers are awful. No arguments there. I saw them beat the Canes on Friday night. They were still awful. Then she went on to say that she doesn’t know much about hockey outside of that, because she’s from Atlanta, where they mostly follow baseball and football. Also, no arguments there. But I see a vision for the NHL. A vision that the Tiny Perfect Commissioner does not have. A vision that involves one of the Olsen twins.
In short, hockey has to become more involved with pop culture. When businesses reach out to new markets, they have to take up a different strategy. Look at the other leagues. NASCAR is reaching out to women and men who don’t normally watch through cute drivers and a marketing campaign that is less redneck, more middle class. The NFL has an even more forward thinking marketing strategy in its pink clothing line and commercials featuring both women, and a “mixed-gender” Sunday shindig (courtesy of Wal-Mart). As a result, they reached out to a larger share of the market, even if they have taken some image hits.
So, Tiny Perfect Commish, I propose that the NHL reach out a little more. I’m lucky enough now to live in a relatively large NHL market, at least compared with other Southern teams. And yes, as per my friend’s comment above, people here usually follow college basketball as a rule. But this can be changed. And by changed I mean exploit Sidney Crosby, Mike Comrie and Hilary Duff. Apparently, as of last week anyway, the Islanders Center, Comrie and Duff are dating. For the record, he’s also a Canadian, so I’d like Andy Hilbert to get on that. Can’t have Canadians dating hot Americans.
Anyway, the point is that this kind of stuff has already shown up at the likes of Perez Hilton, and with scandals such as Jiri Tlusty’s (which, I am not really counting as a scandal, but more on that later), it’s not long before people start to wake up and notice, and perhaps think, “Hey, I can score some cheap hockey tickets tonight, maybe we should hit that up.” Some celebrities (besides Duff) are already going to games. These celebrities might be John Krasinski, but take a page out of the Lakers’ book. Offer Jack Nicholson some tickets, Kings.
Because if you tap into that pop culture market and start selling pink girlie jerseys (which I for the record, would never wear, but hey to each her own), it’s only a matter of time before you actually get people to come to games. And isn’t that the whole point of a league? Oh, and one other suggestion, try to work things out with ESPN, eh? Talk it out.