Kukla's Korner Hockey
Eric Duhatschek at his Globe & Mail blog discusses the various luminaries attending the Esquire party tomorrow night in Manhattan, launching the new NHL season. The guest list includes a number of notables but also features one notable exception, as well.
NHL luminaries for the Esquire party include the commissioner, Gary Bettman, the deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, plus members of the New York Islanders (Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie), the New Jersey Devils (Patrik Elias) and some as yet-to-be-announced members of the Buffalo Sabres. Curiously, there are no New York Rangers’ players listed as possible attendees, even though the Rangers boast two of the NHL’s most attractive free-agent acquisitions, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, at least one of whom (Gomez) is an unbelievably great talker.
One wonders if the Rangers’ absenteeism is merely an oversight, or has something to do with that curious decision by Madison Square Garden (MSG) to file a lawsuit against the NHL last Friday for violating antitrust laws and acting like an illegal cartel.
*For more on the MSG lawsuit, see earlier today on KK
Prior to joining the NHL in November as evp-corporate sales and marketing, John Collins was an executive for more than 15 years at the NFL, including svp-sales and marketing (in 2000 he was named one of Brandweek’s “Marketers of the Next Generation”) and then was president/CEO at the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. In May he was given added responsibilities and a new title, svp-business and media, to work with league marketing partners including Pepsi, Reebok, Anheuser-Busch, XM Satellite, Verizon Wireless and Dodge. He spoke with Brandweek executive editor Barry Janoff about the NHL’s marketing strengths, weaknesses and future.
Brandweek: How was the lockout in 2004-05 a turning point for the NHL?
John Collins: It’s a dramatic step if you shut down any business for a year. In terms of business and marketing, the first season after the lockout was all about restarting the business. The NHL represents a classic marketing opportunity and we hope a classic marketing success. Based on franchise values, revenue growth, the rise in salary cap and other numbers that commissioner Gary Bettman presented this month to the board of governors, the business has come back and is poised for growth.
fromm Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Make no mistake. After supporting Bettman and the Board on issues contrary to their own self-interests such as the hard salary cap, revenue sharing, and cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the Rangers are no longer amenable to ceding control of their business to Sixth Avenue, and neither are a growing number of the big-market teams who carry the league on their backs.
These clubs may support Bettman’s lowest-common-denominator approach to competition on the ice, but they most certainly do not support Sixth Avenue’s concept of parity when applied to individual bottom lines. Slap Shots has obtained a copy of a letter Garden CEO Jim Dolan sent by fax to the 29 other NHL owners Friday night. While affirming respect for the league Governors, Dolan leaves no doubt he not only is engaging the NHL in a philosophical battle, but is challenging the league’s competence in generating revenues and growing the game.
from Evan Weiner at MCN Sports,
When publications and websites put out lists of the Top 100 this, the Top 100 that, they are should always to be taken with a grain of salt. BusinessWeek has posted a list of the Top 100 Power People in sports with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on the top of the list. BusinessWeek should have asked me to be part of their panel because their list is filled with questionable choices and omissions. But BusinessWeek in their wisdom didn’t ask me or Darren Rovell at CNBC or Ronald Blum at the Associated Press or Murray Chass at the New York Times for our opinions or sports business experts in Europe or Asia for their thoughts which is why it is flawed and nothing more than an exercise in futility.
It’s too bad because that Power 100 list might be far more accurate with real sports business experts than the BusinessWeek 100 that was presented. There really is nothing on the list that indicates that the panelists thought about the UEFA 2008 football tournament. That happens to be the second most watched sports event in the world behind the World Cup.
There is nothing about cricket or boxing on the list. The National Hockey League Commissioner is rated just 27th on the list even though the NHL has lots of eyeballs watching its product in Europe far more eyeballs than the NFL on that continent.
from the AP via Sports Illustrated,
Hockeytown needs to get its groove back.
The organization has aggressively tried to market its once-popular product, dropping some ticket prices as low as $9 and plastering images and messages on billboards.
A week before the opener against the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena, a block of 15 seats was available - at $44 apiece - in a corner of the upper bowl.
“The No. 1 thing that has hurt us from a fan’s standpoint is the Michigan economy,’’ general manager Ken Holland said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Madison Square Garden sued the NHL on Friday, saying the league has monopolized promotion of its teams.
According to the lawsuit, the NHL has claimed it will fine MSG, which owns the New York Rangers, $100,000 per day if it does not give the NHL complete control over the team’s Web site and other promotions.
update 6:55pm, a little more on this from Bloomberg…
from NHL Digest,
Trying to swoon the majority of the United States market into adopting ice hockey as a major sport worthy of prime time television slots, major advertising dollars, and premium ticket prices has been a daunting task for the National Hockey League.
To the seasoned hockey fan, the sheer speed and grace of the professional game is enough to send goosebumps up our spines. As hard as it may be for us to understand, that is simply not the case for the average North American television viewer.
COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: Let me add my voice in welcoming you to the 02. It is an incredibly impressive facility, arena. All the other aspects of this facility, surrounding it, are really state-of-the-art, really cutting edge. It’s a delight for us to be here.
I’ve had a little bit of time to interact with fans. I’ve met a number of people from Los Angeles and from Orange County. I’ve seen fans from other places in Europe. Met some fans from Finland and Sweden.
For us, this was an opportunity to dip our toe in the water in Europe, take what we believe is the most international of the North American sports, and bring it to the other side of the Atlantic. And while, obviously, London and England may not be the strongest hockey markets in the world, it puts us in closer proximity to markets and people have traveled here.
from Evan Weiner at the NY Sun,
People who follow sports don’t necessarily look up currency rates. But a significant benchmark was reached last week when the Canadian “loonie” was valued at slightly more than $.99 compared to the American greenback (the loonie is currently valued at $. 99691). It is the first time since November 1976 that the American and Canadian dollars have been virtually on par.
Running franchises in Canada became progressively difficult as the Canadian dollar started a free fall, and bottomed out at around $.62 by 1998. But because the two currencies are now on par, the NHL and the NFL may start looking north of the American border to expand their business opportunities.
from Lindsay Berra of ESPN the Magazine,
If relatively anonymous. Drury, carting two gallons of milk out of a bodega on Manhattan’s Upper West Side recently, had to stare at a guy he thought was on HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” (he wasn’t) before he got a “Hey, you’re the new Ranger!” in return. And Gomez spent an hour in a Starbucks near MSG on a late-summer workday afternoon, drinking his grapefruit soda in total peace. Think that’d happen to Eli Manning or Derek Jeter?
But Gomez and Drury just got into town; give them a season. Next June, the Rangers could be polishing the Stanley Cup, and NHL brass could be glowing about their improved ratings. Then the only unfinished business would be the ticker-tape parade.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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