Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 09/02/06 at 04:06 AM ET
he National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and Busch Nascar Series driver John Graham today announced that Graham will drive in an upcoming American Le Mans Series race with NHLPA logos adorning his car. The race takes place on the afternoon of Sunday, September 3, 2006 at Mosport International Raceway, just outside of Toronto, Ontario. This agreement allows John Graham to prominently feature the distinctive NHLPA logo on the car that he will be racing at the Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport, presented by Mobil 1. The car will also be displayed publicly for fans and media today at Mosport-Racefest, which is being held across from Eaton Centre in Toronto at the Yonge-Dundas Square from approximately 11am – 2pm. This will provide an excellent photo and video opportunity for media.Well, of course...
The NHLPA, John Graham and other relevant parties are working towards an agreement that will include player images on Graham’s race car in upcoming Busch Nascar Series races. This marks the second foray into the world of motor racing for the NHLPA. In 1998, the NHLPA was an associate sponsor for McCormack Motorsports in the 11-race Indy Racing League.
The NHLPA would have a remarkably better image if they did more to market the product that puts rear ends in rinks: the players. It’s not like hockey players hide Sharpies in their socks. They’re generally decent guys, but the PA’s been loathe to do anything but present a monolithic website and wait for the positive vibes to flow. Even in a union town like Detroit, it was hard to find people who supported the players during the lockout, when things like guaranteed contracts, health benefits, and pensions—the things Metro Detroiters are fighting to keep these days—were in play.
When I met Ray Whitney back in 04-05, I told him that I actually supported the players’ association, and that I thought the owners were nuts for throwing away the season. The reaction on his face was akin to seeing someone from Mars land on the lawn. You’d think he’d blown a transistor because somebody actually didn’t believe Bettman’s bologna about salaries being to blame for high ticket prices.
Is it that the PA doesn’t understand how investing a minimal amount of capital will pay off in terms of intangibles? Are they afraid of competing with the NHL’s website, lest toes are stepped upon? The NHLPA doesn’t even have to try all that hard to improve its image! Put some news stories on the website regularly, instead of once-every-other-week profiles: a few writers and web-heads could produce a tremendous amount of content: articles, fantasy sports info, player blogs, maybe even player appearances where fans don’t have to pay to get autographs. If they were to get really ambitious, they could shoot a commercial or two. It’s not rocket science, though the way the PA’s approached PR thus far, one does wonder if a space cadet is running the show.
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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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