The NHL marketing problem can’t be ignored anymore. Did you know there was an outdoor game last weekend? Or how about that there was an entire NY Times profile on Chris Kreider? You didn’t? Shocker. Because we didn’t either, at least for the Times piece. There was zero publicity from the Rangers or the NHL about the piece. There was also nothing leading up to the outdoor game over the weekend.
Logically speaking, you’d think both the Rangers and the NHL would market the current goal scoring leader in the NHL. Kreider leads the league in goals and could potentially win the Rocket Richard Trophy. But nothing. Not a retweet. Not a quote tweet. Not even a screenshot saying “That’s our Kreider!” or something like that.
The NHL refuses to market their individual players outside of Crosby, Ovechkin (which will likely come to a halt), and Kane. They don’t even market the best player in the league. This is because the NHL can’t get off their high horse that hockey is a “team game.” It’s as if the other sports aren’t team games.
Soccer? They market their stars. Basketball? Same. Football? Yup. Baseball? I’m pretty sure. Hockey? Nope. It’s a team game. Like none of the other sports are team games. And no, hockey isn’t “more” of a team game than soccer or football.
As for the outdoor games, the NHL doesn’t market anything nationally besides the Winter Classic. It seems like they don’t want the Stadium Series games to be nationally known, asides from the whole nationally televised thing. This is a league that is actively shooting itself in the foot.
To be very blunt, the NHL and hockey will always be a second tier sport in the US if they don’t start marketing their stars. It’s not a new thought process, as the NHL has always been delinquent in marketing stars, which is the crux of the NHL marketing problem.
The old school mentality is the NHL marketing problem. The NHL is most certainly a team game, and that’s fine. But the players are what drive the money. Drive the money, be a “real” sport in the US. It’s that simple.