The NHL All-Star weekend is a fun showcase for the league and its top players. The players show off their skills on the ice in a skills competition, and in a 3-on-3 game.
While the skills competition and game are fun events for the fans to watch, the events do not do a good enough job of promoting each individual player.
For example, if one tunes in to NBC’s coverage of the Skills competition, Jeremy Roenick will introduce Player A from a certain club, who is about to participate in a certain competition. Some of the players that participate in the All-Star events are not even interviewed at all. Unless a player has the last name of Ovechkin, Crosby, or Kane, chances are, they will not be interviewed.
From a league marketing approach, it is not good business to interview only 2-3 stars. The NHL has a lot of great talent, and there are more personalities around the league that the networks have not tapped into.
TAKE NOTES FROM THE NBA AND ESPN
The NBA has the NHL beat by miles when it comes to the marketing of players. On all of ESPN’s major shows throughout the day, there is always a segment that discusses all its main stars around the league. Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant are just some of the names you will hear and view on ESPN’s daily programming.
Even if Lebron James posts a tweet about something that is not important, ESPN is on top of the coverage. Lebron James is the poster boy of the NBA, and he is certainly treated like it through all of ESPN’s advertisements, segments, and commercials.
For a sports league to grow its brand and reach out to people, marketing professional athletes is a good way to generate revenue and publicity. Sometimes, fans will flock to players and will purchase a jersey because of the player on the back, not because of the city that player plays in.
My question is: Why does the NHL not do this more often with its players? Why does NBC not take the time to market the players around the league? There are more players outside of Ovechkin and Crosby that can be marketed. On one of the biggest weekends of the league calendar, why not use this event to market these individuals?
CHANGE THE CHALLENGES
Hockey fans know that hockey players can do some remarkable things on the ice. These athletes on the ice can pass the puck, shoot the puck, and skate well. But if the league wants to highlight its players differently, try different things.
For example, take a page out of WWE’s book. Bring the entertainment element to the NHL All-Star game. One way Vince McMahon showcases his superstars to the audience is by letting the stars be special guest commentators for matches.
By letting superstars do commentary, they can talk to the audience, and they can put their characters and personalities on display.
Yes, I am aware that WWE is sports entertainment. However, entertainment is something the NHL needs more of during these events. During the All-Star events, the NHL needs to let their stars take over. Let Alex Ovechkin hold the microphone instead of Pierre McGuire. Display the stars interacting with one another. There are plenty of player friendships off the ice that do not involve players that play on the same team.
While I like the hardest shot and fastest skater challenges, I would like to see the players do challenges where hockey is not involved. I would like to see the players participate in other games like Family Feud or Jeopardy. The NHL needs to do more player profiles during their national telecasts. They need to highlight the players more, so they can reach out to fans new and old.
By: George Foussekis