The NHL today - A lack of vision
August 22, 2017
The NHL's lack of vision comes from the TOP
Owners need to wake up and give the NHL a deserving visionary that can sell the game
August 2017 - It's hard to imagine the NHL becoming the most popular sport in the world. It's just not realistic. The cost of playing, the ice required – these are elements that make it very difficult for many people to play. It's only natural that there is less interest in a sport that many people don't grow up playing – and while we don't expect hockey to be the powerhouse of the NFL or the global force of the NBA, a lack of leadership and vision at the top of the helm is becoming hard to ignore.
Enter Gary Bettman. Hi Gary.
Look, we don't hate you. We commend you for your vision early in your career. You’ve helped expand into the US, kept Donald Trump far away from owning a franchise (major brownie points) and, placed the NHL in a position to excel. You've done some good things and you seem like a nice enough guy, so thank you. That being said, it's time for you and your squad to go.
What the National Hockey League needs is a visionary who truly understands where the game needs to go, and how to get it there. An individual who has the ability to sell his or her vision to fans, players, sponsors and owners alike. An influencer of sorts can truly drive the game forward. Unfortunately, in order to sell a vision, you must have it to begin with.
Erik Karlsson Who?
Do you know who the most polarizing player in the game is? Well, apparently the NHL does not. All you have to do is visit the most popular hockey forum on the planet at Hfboards.com that has over 108k members to realize that, it is in fact Erik Karlsson, who continuously dominates conversation. Whether
it's about how he broke the internet when he cut his hair, how he has been blindly robbed twice for the Norris by the Canadian media (it's true), or how he proposed to his girlfriend via a pizza box – it's clearly Karlsson whom fans are interested in talking about. This has been going on for years and the NHL has been apparently too busy planning their next outdoor game (insert unimpressed emoji here). I know what you're thinking: "But what about those incredible EK vs.PK commercials, and that rivalry the NHL created when Subban was in Montreal? That was amazing!?" Ya, that never happened. This goes far beyond Erik Karlsson. There are countless players around the league with dynamic personalities who could be a major asset to its growth. Yet, the NHL has done very little to maximize on its potential.
Look, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are great players, and they should be two of the poster boys for the league… but they may as well be robots. While they may drive views on the ice, off the ice you may as well be watching paint dry, and two slow coats worth of paint … (plus primer). It's hard to believe that a professional sport league understands so little about marketing their core product.
The NHL Network
The NHL Network is a prime example of the lack of vision at the top of the helm. Do you know who watches the NHL Network? Nobody. Okay, maybe my grandma does, but that's only because she is patiently waiting for her #MCM (Man Crush Monday) Elliot Friedman to make a rare appearance.
From a second-rate website, a lack of compelling programming, lackluster sets and an underwhelming group of broadcasters the NHL Network is just that, second-rate. It should be the place where every hockey fan wants to be, where they live and breathe the sport they love. A place where the NHL can flex its muscle and push the brand forward. They could have brought on popular star broadcasters Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole when they became available, or attempted to follow the NFL Network model by bringing in truly polarizing and engaging former players like Jeremey Roenick, but no. The funny thing is that the NHL doesn't even have to be that creative or even have that much vision when it comes the their Network because the formula is right in front of their faces. Note to the NHL: WATCH THE NFL NETWORK
For what it's worth, hockey may be the best sport on the planet. But while it may be the best sport, it certainly is not close to being the best product and that is where the NHL fails. Whether it's the lack of marketing its core product, the underwhelming NHL Network, or the brutal uniform designs they forwent with their new partnership through Adidas, something has to be done. The fans and the sport deserve better.
Final Note: Please put a microchip in your puck or find a technology that is clearly available so that offsides and goals can be caught in real time. Thanks.