The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/07/13 at 01:24 AM ET
I've already received some Tweets and will certainly receive some emails regarding the mysterious email the Red Wings sent their fans on Saturday night, stating that they will make an "announcement" at 10:30 AM EDT today (and that the announcement will be streamed on DetroitRedWings.com and re-shown in snippets during today's matinee between the Wings and Blues, which starts at 12:30 PM EDT, and will conveniently air on NBC and the NHL Network Canada), so if you missed Sportsnet's John Shannon's tip-off that it involves formally awarding the 2014 Winter Classic to Detroit, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff reiterated that statement on Saturday afternoon:
The NHL sent the following email to media types on Thurdsay, and yes, I am pretty damn sure that the "jersey unveiling" will involve displaying merchandise that will be available at the Joe and/or on the NHL.com's online store in short order (I've removed the contact info so you don't call the contact person in the middle of the night):
NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT & HOST UNVEILING AT JOE LOUIS ARENA IN DETROIT SUNDAY, APRIL 7 AT 10:30 A.M. ET
WHAT: NHL Special Event Press Conference, Jersey Unveiling & Media Availability
WHEN: Sunday, April 7 10:30 a.m. ET. Media Entrance will open at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Joe Louis Arena
RSVP: Members of the media are asked to RSVP to [blah blah blah blah blah]. Television networks planning any live content from the arena must indicate those plans on RSVP.
So a boatload of TV crews and media types from Detroit, Toronto, NBC sports, etc. will show up, and what will happen?
The NHL will let us formally know that the Winter Classic's going to be "made up due to lockout delay" next season, and it is highly probable that the Wings will inform us of some general plan regarding the Hockeytown Winter Festival...
But I don't expect them to tell us everything regarding who will participate in each and every event (see: two alumni games on the same day, AHL, OHL, NCAA and even high school hockey games held at Comerica Park), ticket availability or pricing (remember, the NHL runs the Winter Classic and the Wings handle the Hockeytown Winter Festival) or even specific dates for certain events.
Why is this being held?
Three best-guess reasons:
1. Free national exposure due to the NBC game and NHL Network Canada coverage;
2. Merchandise sales and drumming up interest in the event, even if all the "i's" haven't been dotted and the "t's" haven't been crossed (I've been told that season ticket-holders have begun to be informed that Winter Classic tickets will cost more this time around--though there's been no news whatsoever as to whether those who held onto their tickets will be asked to add a few more bucks to the mix--so you can swap out, "Thanks Obama" for, "Thanks, Gary Bettman," and quite frankly, BackPage and eBay listings for scalped tickets that may or may not exist have popped up);
3. As the last two lockouts have taught us, the NHL does a terrible job of keeping secrets, and Chris Creamer's Sports Logos website has already found a video seemingly substantiating their earlier reports regarding at least the looks of the Maple Leafs' probable jerseys (the Wings jersey, not so much):
Put very bluntly, this announcement will be made to generate hype/publicity, to encourage both season ticket-holders and those interested to call the Wings and Leafs to either get answers or sign up for emails/text alerts/etc., and because Reebok makes almost EVERYthing in China these days (even their Lefevre goalie gear is now made in China, and it doesn't cost a penny less than the stuff made in Quebec), this is the time of year that teams have to let the league know about desires to tweak their jerseys or introduce next year's merchandise because there's a several-month delay between orders and having stuff shipped over to the U.S. and Canada.
Same goes for hockey equipment companies, which is why gearheads are starting to see stuff that won't be available to the public until next March in the hands of NHL'ers right now.
So we'll probably be left with more questions than answers this morning, but fans like you and me will slowly but surely receive the kind of intriguing information that causes us to approach our teams and the leagues with wallets open, and that's generally the bottom line (hey, sports is a business, it is what it is).
The longer the lead-up, the bigger the hype, and the bigger the hype, the more stuff that sells. "Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made," as Mel Brooks said in Spaceballs.
Because I'm a fan like you and buy tickets to cheer at games and buy merchandise and hockey cards (though I haven't worn any Wings stuff or put my magnet back on my Pacifica's trunk lid since the lockout began), I'm kind of resigned to accepting that the Wings and NHL making money from me isn't worth getting pissy about, but I will say that this Wings fan's butt won't be in a bleacher seat during the Winter Classic.
If I go I'll sit in the press box and not cheer, because those 113,000 seats disappear fast, and somebody else's butt should be attached to a Wings fan cheering in my place instead.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.