Today, someone at work told me, the hockey season began. Except:
It started before noon where I am.
It started in Europe.
No one really played a home game.
No teams play a home opener until Thursday. And…
They are still playing preseason games.
You know, when there is preseason hockey, that should mean the season hasn’t started yet. And yet, the season has started. This makes no sense. It’s pure logic.
Am I missing something here? Am I just not understanding what the NHL market is like? I realize that there are plenty of players from all over the world in the NHL, but in a gate receipt driven business, why would you drive your interest somewhere else? Shouldn’t you do everything in your power to make the NHL season opener special to the people who are buying the tickets, the jerseys, the television packages, the beer, and paying for the league to exist?
And hey, shouldn’t you broadcast it in America, where three of the four teams playing are located? Shouldn’t that be a priority?!?!?
When I was driving to Kansas City this past week, I stopped in Lake St. Louis, MO to see the old United Hockey League office, and what had become of it (stay with me here, there is a point). It’s now just some nondescript office, something a bean counter or small tech startup would call home. I knew where it was because I stopped by in 2005 when I took an extended road trip through the entire UHL (14 teams at the time). They treated me great, sat and talked with me for a while, and even gave me a little swag (totally unnecessary, but still). The last I knew, the PR guy I talked with is working with the Pittsburgh Penguins now.
The minors know about keeping fans happy. They know that loyalty is earned, that giving back something is important, and that keeping the attention of the local hockey fan is a full time job. They don’t let opportunities pass them by, and they don’t wait for those opportunities to present themselves, they create them. The minor leagues make mistakes, but they don’t repeat them too often, or else they will be gone.
Does it ever feel like the NHL just doesn’t care about keeping it’s fans happy?