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NHL needs to find way to bring in more fans


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I mean especially in the USA where the media always seem to favor the the other major leagues , NFL, MLB and NBA.  Now I am sure that baseball and basketball are not as big as they once were.  I am no fan of Bettman for starters.  But aside from him, I believe that the old fights brought in fans. I am not one of them as I love the game, but it certainly upped the attendance.  Now you will think J am crazy for this idea, but it’s just a thought.   For those that are too young to remember, did you ever see film of games from the 60s?  Older than that the film quality is bad and you don’t get the effects.  I am talking about personalities in hockey.  Toss the helmets, let’s do a trial of playing like they used to without the helmet.  I know it’s highly unlikely to ever happen, but give the players the choice!  McTavish was the last to go without one.  Covid sure did not help any of the major sports.  I just think there have to be some ideas to bring in more fans, especially US.  Canada 🍁 is fine. Thanks 

Would Derek Sanderson have his immortal reputation if he wore a helmet climbing into the stands brawling with fans?

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33 minutes ago, Hockey Junkie said:

Toss the helmets, let’s do a trial of playing like they used to without the helmet.

 

Too dangerous.  Besides it would never pass the NHLPA.  Players are bigger and stronger than they where 40 years ago.  We have already seen players careers shortened because of pucks to the head.  I appreciate the idea but it is just too dangerous.

 

Hockey is a hard sport to follow to follow on TV.  The puck is small and is zipping around at over 80 mph and as you know can change direction in a millisecond. ESPN did the sport no favors when they did away with covering the sport back in after the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. ESPN refused to get into a bidding war and lost the rights to show the league's games. IMO that hurt tremendously.  NHL hockey still gets very little coverage at on ESPN.  

 

In recent developments and after an absence of 16 years, the National Hockey League is returning to ESPN. The Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN and ABC, announced Wednesday that it had signed a seven-year rights agreement with the N.H.L. that will begin with the 2021-22 season. ESPN or ABC will show 25 games and half of the playoffs each season, and the Stanley Cup finals in four of the deal’s seven years.

 

Hockey has always ranked #4 in all the major sports behind Football, Baseball, and Basketball.  Soccer has been getting a huge promotion and is vying for #4.

 

 

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By every measure the league is more popular and more valuable than ever.

 

As opposed to "the '60s" where there were - *checks notes* - six teams located in the North/Central US and Canada, there are 32 teams from Vancouver to Miami and Montreal to Los Angeles with national TV deals in both countries.

 

This is a "solution" in search of a "problem" most often accompanied by the "why isn't there more fighting these days?" trope. Ask Derek Boogaard why fighting is down in the league. Oh, wait...

 

Hockey is simply never going to have the same broad appeal as football or basketball. If that's the goal, it's dead at the start. Football has a stranglehold on three days in American culture - Friday Night Lights for High School, College on Saturday, and the NFL on Sunday. There are half a dozen basketball courts within half a mile of my house in South Philly. People can just walk on and play. The nearest rink is a mile and a half a away and has "open hockey" on Tuesdays at 9PM for $10 a head - in season.

 

38 minutes ago, pilldoc said:

Too dangerous.  Besides it would never pass the NHLPA.  Players are bigger and stronger than they where 40 years ago.  We have already seen players careers shortened because of pucks to the head.  I appreciate the idea but it is just too dangerous.

 

It's also dangerous in terms of litigation. The league knows that there is a problem with concussion and long term health implications. It opens itself up to potential lawsuits from injured players if they are seen to be removing protections from the game.

 

Boogaard's survivors lost their lawsuit, but that was more about the acceptance of the problems associated with fighting than players wearing helmets.

 

The wooden-stick era is gone. It's like pining for the days of guys playing two-way football. Or, for that matter, guys playing football with leather helmets.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Hockey Junkie said:

NHL needs to find way to bring in more fans

 

3 hours ago, radoran said:

By every measure the league is more popular and more valuable than ever[...]

 

This is a "solution" in search of a "problem" 

 

Yeah, the problem isn't bringing in more fans.  In some respects, the problem is watering down the fricken sport to attract more "fans" that will walk away when boredom strikes.  

 

But really, to rad's point, the sport does have more wide "popularity" than ever even if not as deep.   They do need to do a better job of marketing their players on a national US-market scale.   But I wouldn't be in support of many of the ideas proposed in the OP, but only because many of them are insane and void of reality.

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9 minutes ago, ruxpin said:

 

 

Yeah, the problem isn't bringing in more fans.  In some respects, the problem is watering down the fricken sport to attract more "fans" that will walk away when boredom strikes.  

 

But really, to rad's point, the sport does have more wide "popularity" than ever even if not as deep.   They do need to do a better job of marketing their players on a national US-market scale.   But I wouldn't be in support of many of the ideas proposed in the OP, but only because many of them are insane and void of reality.

 

Yup. There is a historically great player, in his prime, active in the league right now, and I get that he plays in Canada, but the NHL still does a poor job of even making people aware that he exists.

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5 minutes ago, JR Ewing said:

 

Yup. There is a historically great player, in his prime, active in the league right now, and I get that he plays in Canada, but the NHL still does a poor job of even making people aware that he exists.

 

Is it cynical to think the owners will protest the promotion of individual players by the league because "WhY iS tHe LeAgUe PlAyInG fAvOuRiTeS"? It will be seen as promoting the team the player is in (in this case I'm assuming you mean Edmonton). Personally I'm all for it, but there's the potential for unnecessary bitchiness

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@Puck_Pun By no means do I suggest that the NHL market any one player or two above the rest of the league. They could choose all-stars from each market. I only use McDavid as an egregious example of the NHL not selling an easily marketable player.

 

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7 minutes ago, JR Ewing said:

@Puck_Pun By no means do I suggest that the NHL market any one player or two above the rest of the league. They could choose all-stars from each market. I only use McDavid as an egregious example of the NHL not selling an easily marketable player.

 

 

Ehh, that seems more the responsibility of the team than the league as a whole

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1 minute ago, Puck_Pun said:

 

Ehh, that seems more the responsibility of the team than the league as a whole

 

Yet it's done in other sports.   It's not just individual teams marketing Aaron Rogers or Tom Brady or LeBron or Kobe or Durant or Curry or Trout or Harper, etc. etc. etc.

 

Sure, the teams act in conjunction, but those players aren't just known to fans of their teams or even only fans of their sport.   I mean, my wife HATES Brady and she wouldn't know a first down from a down pillow.   Not a great example since that's due to some negative personal news stories, but she'd recognize all of the names above.  With a huge hockey fan in the house, I don't think think she'd recognize the names of McDavid or McKinnon or Price or Kucherov, etc. let alone recognize them on a TV commercial.

 

The NHL needs to trade off on their stars.  I don't know why the NHL makes something so obvious so difficult.

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51 minutes ago, JR Ewing said:

Yup. There is a historically great player, in his prime, active in the league right now, and I get that he plays in Canada, but the NHL still does a poor job of even making people aware that he exists.

 

They had the same problem with Gretzky. The main problem is that Edmonton is 200 miles north of Calgary and most Americans couldn't find Calgary on a map, much less spell it correctly.

 

Trying to get Americans to give a rat's ass about a Canadian playing in Canada is something of a fool's errand. And I'm not sure, for example, that Crosby's personality makes him a viable center of promotion outside of Pittsburgh.

 

That said, one of the few "national" campaigns I've seen featuring an NHL player in the states was Niklas Backstrom for GEICO. But at least he plays in Washington and has won a Cup.

 

IMO, Hockey simply doesn't lend itself to individual promotion. Certainly not like basketball or football. There isn't a direct comparison to a "quarterback" on a hockey team (and I don't mean "quarterbacking a power play") and there are just far more eyes on "great" basketball players like LeBron James.

 

For that matter, when was the last "great" baseball player... to have gotten a national promotion?

 

Hockey is first and foremost a team game and second and secondmost a live game. My dear departed father never liked the game at all until I dragged him kicking and screaming to a live Flyers game, at which point he "got it." The speed of the game just isn't as evident on teh teevee (not that I haven't watched a game or two...).

 

We've seen that the sport can "make" fans in places as random as Las Vegas and Nashville. And while I'm not an all sanguine about the prospects, we're most likely going to see if an actual, competitive hockey team can mean anything in Miami.

 

There are obvious exceptions, but if you give an area a successful team and it generally drives interest and attendance. You give an area an unsuccessful team and you've got Ottawa.

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21 minutes ago, radoran said:

 

They had the same problem with Gretzky. The main problem is that Edmonton is 200 miles north of Calgary and most Americans couldn't find Calgary on a map, much less spell it correctly.

 

 

 

Not to argue against the points you made (because I think you're largely correct) but just to be kind of an ass: many Americans I've spoken with have no idea where St. Paul could be found on a map, let alone Edmonton or Calgary.

 

🗺️

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4 minutes ago, JR Ewing said:

many Americans I've spoken with have no idea where St. Paul could be found

 

why, on the road to Damascus, of course!

 

:5a6425fa25331_VikingSkoool:

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2 hours ago, radoran said:

They had the same problem with Gretzky. The main problem is that Edmonton is 200 miles north of Calgary and most Americans couldn't find Calgary Canada on a map, much less spell it correctly.

 

Let's be honest.   Probably approaching half of Americans couldn't find their own town on a map of North America...or even of just the US. Seriously.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ruxpin said:

Let's be honest.   Probably approaching half of Americans couldn't find their own town on a map of North America...or even of just the US. Seriously.

 

Or North America...

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1 hour ago, ruxpin said:

 

Let's be honest.   Probably approaching half of Americans couldn't find their own town on a map of North America...or even of just the US. Seriously.

 

 

 

Whenever a person starts up with "Aw, we should just bomb the sh|t out of" whatever country is the target du jour, I like to ask them "Where is it? Can you point it out on a map without help?" and a shocking/disappointing/unsurprising number of them couldn't do it if their life depended on it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, JR Ewing said:

 

Whenever a person starts up with "Aw, we should just bomb the sh|t out of" whatever country is the target du jour, I like to ask them "Where is it? Can you point it out on a map without help?" and a shocking/disappointing/unsurprising number of them couldn't do it if their life depended on it.

 

 

 

No doubt in my mind that's true

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6 hours ago, JR Ewing said:

 

Not to argue against the points you made (because I think you're largely correct) but just to be kind of an ass: many Americans I've spoken with have no idea where St. Paul could be found on a map, let alone Edmonton or Calgary.

 

🗺️

 

It's my understanding that St. Paul is the sister city to St. Peter. Both supposed to be really good 'burgs. :ph34r: 

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As for the NHL bringing in new fans, well, of COURSE they need to find ways to do that.
That is a never ending process. You always want new blood in even if you already have an established and hardcore fanbase.

The NFL knows this, the NBA knows this, the MLB knows this.
They continue to work tirelessly getting new fans, market their players pretty well, and just generally shove their sports in as many faces as they can.

The NHL, in that regard, can probably learn a thing or two about marketing players from those leagues.
I know the NHL is enjoying good popularity now, but I agree with those who say it will ALWAYS be behind those other three leagues, especially in the United States, and for varying reasons, some of which, posters have already mentioned.

The NHL pushing to have more fights, having players be less safe on the ice (no helmets? You kidding me??), or doing anything to be more of a sideshow instead of a legit, fun, professionally run product is NOT the way to go.

With regards to fighting, I actually like that the NHL has not actually banned it, but set the rules, and then teams themselves set their rosters up, so that a pair of fists on skates are no longer real options for teams.

Fights will still occur, but not nearly at the rate they used to obviously, but its because there are more actual hockey players on the ice rather than pugilists disguised as hockey players.

The instigator rule can go right to hell because I feel that encourages the Rat players of the NHL to do more their thing with impunity (and cause serious injury in the process....maybe even more than a straight fight between two players), but that is for another thread.

But from what I can tell, NHL players are real characters, have great personalities, and love being hams for cameras.
NHL should play to that in their marketing strategies (Ovechkin and Pastrnak on commercials are pretty good for instance), as well as going out of their way to market players from places like Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg, who have guys that definitely fit the mold of "marketable, skilled, and good for the game".

NHL doesn't have to try and "beat" the NFL or any of the other leagues (face it, that just isn't happening), but they can continue to do their own thing, maximize their player assets and continue to put out a good, exciting product on the ice.

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16 hours ago, JR Ewing said:

 

Yup. There is a historically great player, in his prime, active in the league right now, and I get that he plays in Canada, but the NHL still does a poor job of even making people aware that he exists.

Your talking about McDavid I assume?  That is one guy, not the entire league.  The problem is in the USA.  The NHL is in the back seat to the NFL, MLB and even the NBA.  Its a fact

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Well the NHL just allowed ads on jerseys.  What does that tell you?   The big 4's version of the MLS or NASCAR.  Bring back the fights or remove the damn helmets or both.  

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17 hours ago, ruxpin said:

 

 

Yeah, the problem isn't bringing in more fans.  In some respects, the problem is watering down the fricken sport to attract more "fans" that will walk away when boredom strikes.  

 

But really, to rad's point, the sport does have more wide "popularity" than ever even if not as deep.   They do need to do a better job of marketing their players on a national US-market scale.   But I wouldn't be in support of many of the ideas proposed in the OP, but only because many of them are insane and void of reality.

Watering down the sport?  Done.  Too many teams now.  A late guy that lived next door to me, a Rangers fan, said when there were 6 teams you had to be something special to be in the NHL.  Now we know 6 is way too few.  But Florida should not have a team.  Ever watch one of their games?  And now they are good!!!!  Nobody shows up

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3 minutes ago, Hockey Junkie said:

Can you imagine Bobby Orr with a helmet?  Hell no

Can you imagine JFK with one?

 

 

 

 

Too soon?

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1 minute ago, ruxpin said:

Can you imagine JFK with one?

 

 

 

 

Too soon?

Apples and oranges pal.  Early bird like me I see.  Ill tell you the same thing I just said to Sanifan you spend so much time piling on my team what will you do when your team is not doing so well, AGAIN?

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18 minutes ago, Hockey Junkie said:

Apples and oranges pal.  Early bird like me I see.  Ill tell you the same thing I just said to Sanifan you spend so much time piling on my team what will you do when your team is not doing so well, AGAIN?

I actually don't pile on your team.

 

Reporting on a fire isn't lighting the match, it's just telling it like it is...at least from my perspective. I do the same with the Flyers (which means I'm not often very positive about them).

 

Seriously, I come at the Sabres somewhat sympathetically because I think their fans deserve better than the garbage they've been force fed the past 10-14 years or so.   I don't quite lump Philly fans that way.  You go on Facebook or Twitter and way too many Philly fans (whether Flyers or Eagles) are way too blindly rah rah.  I guess maybe that's the same way elsewhere, but those fans deserve to keep drinking the sand.

 

The honest to God truth is that the Pegulas are terrible hockey owners.   Maybe they do well elsewhere (clearly, they do), but they are simply terrible at hockey. I think you have to cheer for them to be sold.

 

But the Flyers are in a similar spot.  Obviously, Comcast knows how to make money (though it's astounding how poorly their company is run), but the people running the Flyers are also simply terrible at hockey. 

 

I'm not the one beating up on the Sabres. Seriously, that's their own players doing that.   When nearly everyone on the team is running for the exits (O'Reilly, Risto, Reinhart, Eichel, etc) there is something horrifically wrong. I honestly wish it weren't so. I've said a million times their fans deserve better.  But facts are facts. Vive le révolution!

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