Around the LeagueBusiness of Hockey

Never mind Crosby, the NHL Needs A New Poster Boy

In the first couple of years coming out of the lockout, having Sidney Crosby at the center of all NHL marketing made sense. He was the most talented player in the league, he was well spoken, and the sport needed a fresh face to bring in a new era of hockey in North America. However, as the seasons have gone by, Crosby’s popularity outside of The Steel City has slowly deteriorated.

Fans across the country have come to realize Crosby isn’t the NHL’s white knight. He’s one of the sports best no doubt, but everyone is now aware of his dirty play, the whining, and of course the unparalleled favoritism shown by league referees.

Hockey fans are ready for a new poster boy and the league should give it to them, otherwise they run the risk of being like golf when Tiger was injured, no one was watching…this is pre-sexcapades of course.

Now I’m not naïve enough to think Crosby’s lack of likability is going to force the league to reconsider its marketing strategy. However, with the relative uncertainty of his health and future, the timing couldn’t be better to look at other NHL elites.

Of course reading this post you knew there was a list coming, so here are several players the NHL should be putting their promotional dollars behind.

Steven Stamkos

Stamkos is arguably the game’s purest goal scorer. He may not have the flash of Alexander Ovechkin, or the eccentricity, but he’s of equal value to the Tampa Bay Lightning. To date, he has received very little push.

Now Tampa may not win any awards as the league’s greatest hockey market, but the house is packed every night, the ratings are solid, and the team has a chance to go deep into the post-season.

Jeff Skinner

Should Skinner follow up his rookie season with a sensational second, he should get a bump. He’s young, he’s uber-talented, he’s fresh faced, and the kid’s jersey probably outsells fried Oreos down south. If the league wants to continue to market the youth, it’s hard to not give Skinner a look.

He’s only 20 years old, but viewers and the media always love whiz kids whether it’s Rory McIlroy, Shaun White, etc. There’s obviously some risk involved putting all of that responsibility on such a young kid, but Skinner seems like he can handle the attention.

Dustin Byfuglien

It’s pretty simple. The league doesn’t do enough to market the game to minorities and it’s a big reason why hockey’s TV ratings are “grassroots,” which is the industry term for sh*tty. Hockey will never come close to being within the same viewership level as the NBA until they can diversify their audience. Byfuglien can help solve this issue.

Byfuglien may not be the best defensemen in the league, but he scores a lot of goals, he’s enormous, and he’s articulate. Playing in Winnipeg, which will now be the NHL’s smallest market, is going to hurt his exposure. The league needs to do what it can to counter the lack of love from NBC.

Henrik Lundqvist

I know, I know, a Rangers blogger is suggesting the NHL use a New York Ranger to be one of the faces of hockey, how ironic! Still, New York is the NHL’s biggest market and Lundqvist has been the Rangers greatest player, yet the man is never featured in any national advertising.

The Winter Classic and HBO’s 24/7 are the league’s best opportunities to build new stars. Why not use the star of those programs (don’t worry he will be) to be the centerpiece of all your marketing?

Lundqvist is the best, he’s well dressed, and he’s got a legion of supporters behind him. It’s time to show the rest of North America why he is The King of NYC.

Show More
  • While I love Henrik to death, he’s to urbane and sophisticated to be anyone’s poster boy except for horny teenage girls in the NY Metro Area.

    Stamkos might be a nice kid with tremendous talent but he isn’t a pretty pup and doesn’t photograph well.

    As for Byfuglien, the NHL could suit up Jay Zee and Kanye West and it still won’t make a dent into the basketball, football or baseball markets. People tend to watch what they have played growing up.Ice Hockey is a sport for rich kids in the US and the middle class in Canada. Ice Hockey in Harlem won’t do much to change things.

    Jeff Skinner is your boy. A cute, fresh faced kid with gobs of talent and he’s Canadian. That will keep those whiners north of the border happy.

    • I don’t disagree with you on Hank. His GQ-ness probably isn’t for the masses, especially blue collar Middle America. But then again, Jeter isn’t too different and his jerseys sell the world over.

      However, I have to disagree with you on the diversity thing. Hockey will never touch football and baseball, but its not because of youth sports. Only a small percentage of people growning up play football and while the NHL does need to increase youth hockey numbers, the affect on the sport’s growth is minimal.

      And hockey outdraws basketball attendance-wise in many shared markets, but they get us in TV ratings. It doesn’t cost those living in urban areas to turn on the TV.

      Marketing hockey’s minorities is a must for TV ratings.

      • I can become the greatest basketball player by spending 25$ on a ball. Nine guys and myself can play at Rucker Park all day and nite for free with others waiting to play the winners. You play it you watch it you come to love it.I came to love hockey because i love to skate and alot of minority youth are very creative skaters.To play hockey takes alot of money,money that these kids dont have, were is there free ice to play on if i do some how buy gear.Suit growing up in Harlem my friends and i watched what we played what we were exposed to and it wasn’t hockey.NHL money is what is needed or corporate money but it is money to start and sustain hockey programs in minority communities.In 94 my friends watched the Rangers ride to the cup along with the the Knicks and that was the key the Knicks went to the finals also it was NYC pride.

        • It’s def a piece of the puzzle, I agree.

          But the ESPNs, Nikes, and Under Armors of the world should be including the Byfugliens, Kanes, and Stewarts in their marketing and they are not. They play a role in this as well.

  • My pick for the new poster boy for the Canadians would be their beloved Jonathan Toews. The youngest triple gold winner in all of hockey. He has done it all, and done it with a professional style all of his own. He is the youngest Captain of a Stanley Cup Champion team, and the Conn Smythe winner. You never here someone bash the way this kid plays the game. Why, because he is twice the person as he is the player. He is a Class Act!!!

    Another favorite of mine is Zach Parise. (Yes I know he plays for the Devils) but before that he was also a two time Gold Medalist for the USA in the U-18 level and U20 level. If the Rangers could ever make room for his talent, he would SOON be a Stanley Cup Champion. Again how does a hockey fan not like the way this kid plays. He too is a class act, in his free time he gives his free time to the library system to promotes the importance of reading to children.

    One thing they have in common – they both played for the “Fighting Sioux” 🙂

  • Back to top button