Imagine This Happened

After a game of rec hockey, I decided I needed to sit down with the new Avalanche video, #ImagineAvs, and see what I thought.  Responses online are mixed, and about as partisan as congress these days.  If you haven’t seen it, here it is.

My thoughts?  I thought it sucked.  But we need to go into why I thought that, and why it doesn’t matter (either that it sucked, or that I thought it sucks).

Why it sucked:

OK, let’s start with the simplest and most obvious issue: lip-syncing.  Why are the Avs lip syncing?  Why do we need Paul Stastny lip-syncing “whoa oh?”  It’s fairly obvious that the Avs players did not suddenly form some ****-rock band and put out a video.  If you are going to do lip-syncing, it should be fun.  Moody, brooding, I’m-sad-on-the-inside-and-buff-on-the-outside lip-syncing isn’t interesting.

And I called it ***-rock above because I don’t know what to call this.  I wasn’t a fan of the song, and I don’t want to compare it to Creed (because that’s some seriously low hanging fruit, like almost touching the ground).  But what is this?  Wikipedia says they are an “alternative rock band” but I don’t see it.  Alternative to… good?

What the hell is an Imagine Dragon?  Know what? I’m going to let that one go.  Naming things is hard.

The song, Radioactive, doesn’t seem to go anywhere.  I understand you don’t want a lot of depth when you are looking for music to backup a sports franchise, but when you pair it with moody images of players trying to be intense, you are creating (or trying to create) depth.  The two things don’t mesh.  The closest thing to a message the song has is “Welcome to the new age,” which is an appropriate comment on the change in culture the Avalanche have experienced.  Beyond that, the song never seems to go anywhere.

Jay and I discussed songs that talk about being “ready to rock you” like this one does, but never actually get to the rocking, at the end of episode 84 of the Avs Hockey Podcast. This is a classic example.  They are ready to rock us, but haven’t started, and I doubt their ability to do so.

Who the hell is that guy with the homie jazz hands and the bass drum?  Is that an Imagine Dragon?  Is that John Mitchell?  Has there been anyone since Limp Bizkit that looked cool doing this?  I’m pretty sure Smashmouth tried this once and someone got hurt.

Firefox

 

Hey, why so moody, Avalanche players?  Landeskog, you look sad.  And why so angry, Matt Duchene?  You are playing well, the fans are into the games, you are in a playoff position.  What’s with the gloom and doom?  You don’t need to get all “Friendship is magic” on us, but come on.  Lighten up.

What worked for me:

Hockey highlights.  They didn’t do their usual photoshop filter job and screw up the highlights to make them look cool and hip.  Hockey looks cool enough, don’t screw with it.  They didn’t here.

The shots of Denver.

High production values.  The Avalanche media team did a good job with the quality of the video.  It looked excellent, which is what it has to do, because you know they will be showing this on their huge HD jumbotron in the Pepsi Center.

What really matters:

Did you catch what the issue here is?  Did you notice why my opinion of the video doesn’t matter in the long run?

What did I like about the video?  The hockey, because I am a hockey fan.  This isn’t aimed at people who are already hockey fans.

Does the average Avs fan need moody players?  No.

Do they need the cheesecake shots?  I can think of a few, but put out a calendar.

Do we need stalking and beating drums?  Nope.

We need winning to bring back the fans to the ice.  And the Avalanche have been winning.  And the fans are starting to come back.  The 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues game needed standing room only ticket sales to meet the demand.  It’s been a while since that has been the case.

No, this isn’t for me, and that’s just fine.

The real question is how it will play with the people whom it is for, namely people who are not yet Avalanche fans.  That’s something that’s harder to measure.  They say you throw away half your advertising budget, but you never know which half.  Even if it’s less true in the  online market, it’s true with traditional media.  It is going to be hard to tie this video directly with any increase in ticket or merchandise sales.  Or Imagine Dragon album sales.  Or sales of imaginary dragons.

What is good is that the Avalanche are finally making things like this.  They are starting to embrace using their players as the best advertisement of the game.  They are making things that move and flow, not just stills with funky filters and photoshop images in TV ads.  For years, the sighting of a billboard with the Avalanche on it was like spotting a rare majestic bird.  The Avs haven’t pushed their presence to the public in a long time, and they have paid the price.

Being critical of this video should be separated from being happy they put it out there.  It’s been a long time since the Avalanche seemed to care enough to put their message out, and they finally have product on the ice that is worth advertising about.  This sort of effort has been a long time coming.

My overall concern is whether the Avalanche put out the story they want to tell.  All marketing is storytelling, and the Avs can shape and tell the story about their team they want to have.  For years, the story the Boston Bruins have told is the hard-working, lunch pail gang going to do their job.  The Montreal Canadiens story is the elite history of the game, the dynasty years and the hockey glory that has been handed to the next generation of players.  The Toronto Maple Leafs trade on the traditions of the game.  The Flyers build their story out of toughness.

What story are the Avalanche telling with this video?  What story are the Avalanche trying to tell in general?  Those are the questions I have after watching this.  It’s not the story I would want told about this team.

What Bugs Me About the Ryan O’Reilly Situation: No One Is Spared Edition

The Ryan O’Reilly situation is coming to a head in Colorado. Reports, and I use that term as loosely as possible, are that the Avalanche are looking to get some value from him in a trade, and negotiations have broken off. One side wants one thing, and the other wants two different things, take your pick.

As a fan of the Avalanche, the entire situation is frustrating, but the frustration comes from every angle. So let us break this down in this week’s breakdown:

The Avalanche:

- The Avs have a draconian negotiating style, boiling down to “take it or leave it.” They don’t negotiate, and the process has been, at times, brutal. They ship off players who don’t dance to the dollars management wants them to. When you treat your players like terrorists (we don’t negotiate with terrorists, right?), you don’t get a favorable return.

- Information about the situation is rare, and everything comes via leaks and reports. This wouldn’t be a big deal, as negotiations should be happening outside the scope of the public. But when it comes to the Avalanche, everything happens outside the scope of the public. There is a corporate message – that everything is going fine, we are fine, and hard work is all that’s needed – and we fans don’t get anything else. While we shouldn’t know much about what is going on in this situation, the fans never know what is happening in ANY situation. The frustration compounds, and the fans are left wondering if the team even cares about them. Pro Tip: They don’t.

- The team is spiraling, and with the mounting injuries, O’Reilly would be a big help. He won’t be the solution for everything, but he would be something. The problems with the Avalanche exist in just about every department other than goaltending – it’s been a while since I was able to say that – and the banged up defensive corp is probably the most glaring. This is simply weighing the sort term value of the player vs. the long term implications of the contract, and seeing if it’s worth it.

O’Reilly and his camp:

- O’Reilly might not want to play with the Avs. It could be that simple. If so, ask for a trade and move forward. Please.

- If O’Reilly wants to play for the Avs, take something short and work on the rest later. Get that trade in the next contract, or if things work out, hold out then. Coming straight off an entry level contact into a big payday is not something the Avalanche is keen on.

- Honestly, is he worth what he is asking for?  Probably not, but the scale salaries right now are so out of whack, there is very little to base this on.  You compare him to players of equal production and age, and the range is all over the place.  This is how a more open market works, but still, I don’t think he is worth everything he wants.

Media:

- There is no shortage of pot-stirring in the Denver hockey media. This is a provocative group, and they know how to push all the right buttons with the fans. The thinking seems to go, no matter how much anger there is from the fans, at least they are talking about the Avs, and therefore are looking to the media for information. The main beat writer, Adrian Dater, is pretty provocative in his tone (I’m being diplomatic here), and the rest of the group seems to follow suit. A few blog posts, a column or two, and the fans are sufficiently whipped up. Even though nothing has really changed, even though the process is moving along as expected, there is a sudden surge of angry fans NOW. I know where it comes from.

- The media here don’t care for the Avalanche and its management, and the feeling seems mutual. Again, toeing the corporate line is one thing the Avs do have some consistency with, so it makes it hard for the local newspaper reporters to get much to work with; the relationship is strained and possibly beyond repair (if that is even a consideration). That doesn’t serve the audience (if that is even a consideration).

Fans:

- The fans generally want O’Reilly to take the deal, to shut up and play. If they think that the players, after losing half a season to get the CBA they got, are going to just shut up and play, they have another thing coming. And if all they want is for O’Reilly to shut up and play, then they are more interested in the asset of O’Reilly than the person. They didn’t actually like him, they liked his skill. That’s fair, but you can bring in skill with a trade. Or development in the minors. Is this about O’Reilly, or a diminishing situation?

- It’s important to know the difference.  Because the fans loved Joe Sakic for his play and for who he was.  They loved Patrick Roy for his play more than for who he was as a person.  Do they care about Ryan O’Reilly enough to respect his decision to think about his career as opposed to the team?  You can’t sacrifice what you think is right for everyone else every time it comes to crunch time.  It rubs up against our ideas of the myth of the hockey player in uncomfortable.  We think it should be team first, but that doesn’t make sense in every situation.

- It took this situation for the fans to finally come to the conclusion that the Avalanche are a management nightmare?  It took O’Reilly to make them realize the team is this cheap or mismanaged or out of sync with the rest of the league or any number of negative attributes that make the fans want to turn their backs on the team?  It wasn’t the firesale from a few years ago that saw Craig Anderson, Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk shipped out.  It wasn’t the other players that were ostracized for any number of offenses like wanting a raise.  It wasn’t the signing of Brad May (to me, the stupidest offense the Avs every committed).  Perhaps it’s the combination of the lockout and the O’Reilly situation that pushed people over the edge.  But the signs were there all along.  The issues have been with the team for years.  Fandom makes people blind to it.

 

So what now?  What happens next?  Who knows.  The ongoing drama doesn’t make things any better for anyone involved.  The team should move forward, in whatever way that means.  Trade, negotiate, whatever produces action.  This has been an organization driven by inaction and reaction for too long.  There is no initiative left.  We could be waiting a long time.

In Response

Dirk Hoag from the excellent Predators blog, On the Forecheck, left a comment in the previous post about bloggers credentials that I wanted to address. Please keep in mind that I know Dirk, like him a lot, think he’s an excellent blogger, and have met him in person. This isn’t snarking at him, and I asked if he minded me replying to his comments here. So this is all on the up and up.

Dirk’s comments are two-fold, so I’m addressing them as such:

1) Good luck on getting accreditation for bloggers. From what I understand, it was Colorado which led the charge to restrict credentialed bloggers in various cities from having access to visiting teams.

I don’t know if this is exactly the case or not. I know that I have heard the same things, and I know I have heard from people that have talked to the Avs that they don’t seem to keen on the idea. That said, I don’t know how it has been presented to the Avalanche, and I don’t know if there has been a group effort to do so. That said, it doesn’t hurt to try, and it might lead to all of the bloggers here upping their game. Which never hurts.

2) What would media credentials do for bloggers that would truly enhance their ability to counter what you see as failings of the Denver Post? Do they really need ‘we need to work hard and take it one game at a time” quotes to do that?

This is something I’ve heard from plenty of people, and I don’t buy it. Looking at the Washington Capitals experience, they have a rich field of content that goes beyond the stock quotes. I recently discovered the work done by Media Chameleon, and I would say their audio documentaries go beyond what most of the MSM would consider worth doing.

To address the specifics of the Denver Post, You would diversify the tone of the reporting,which is essential to any medium. We don’t just have Law and Order as the only crime drama on TV. We don’t just have on 24 hour news station. But in Denver, we have one newspaper, with two guys. That’s it. Terry Frei was the best of the hockey writers, but he doesn’t do as much Avs writing anymore. Just to spread the coverage out would help. How was the hockey media in Nashville before bloggers were introduced to the press box? That’s where Denver is right now.

I understand the concerns, but I would rather see the chance taken that things will change for the better than not at all.

Time for the Avalanche to Open Up

Today on twitter, I went on a bit of a rant.  And hey, that’s what twitter is there for at times, a bit of a rant. But once you get to around 10 tweets on the same topic, it’s time to close twitter for a minute and open up the old blogging software, dusty though it may be.

I read yet another sour-puss post in the Denver Post today, which I usually avoid at all costs.

Aside – I want you to think about that for a moment.  I’m a  fan of the Colorado Avalanche, and we have one newspaper in town.  And I try to avoid reading it because of the content.  One source with press credentials, and I TRY not to read it.  Isn’t that kind of telling?

There were parts of the post that bugged me, but none more than this:

When push came to shove, the Avs couldn’t win the big ones – again. It was right there for them: two out of three wins against Phoenix, Vancouver and San Jose, and they would have been in good shape for the playoffs. But they got one out of six possible points. Let’s face it, the Avs choked away a win the other day against Vancouver, the one game that stood out to me as proving these guys still aren’t ready for prime time yet.

The number one thing that bugged me was not the word ‘choked,’ but the word ‘again.’  Yes, again the Avalanche were not good enough to make the post season (most likely, as there is the mathematical possibility that they could sneak in).  It isn’t the gloom and doom of that word or that sentence that bugs me.  It’s that we have seen this before.  We have seen this perspective over and over.  It’s copy / paste every few games.

It isn’t that the Denver Post (and to be honest about it, Adrian Dater, the most visual of the Post writers) needs to be fans of the team.  That isn’t their job, and isn’t the way their writing should be structured.  But at this point, the emo message is that you are a fool to think this team was anything but losers.  You would be a mook to be a fan of this team.  And it was all inevitable, and is going to continue.

The Post needs to do it’s job, and that is report the news.  And they need to be given the leeway to state their opinions in the appropriate places.  It isn’t that the Post needs to conform to us, the fans.  But we don’t need to conform to their output either.

The overall issue here is a lack of choice on the part of the fans.  The Denver Post is the only credentialed media outlet that consistently puts out Avalanche material.  They don’t have to do anything other than what they are doing, because they aren’t pushed to do so.  They are the only game in town, and that’s the choice made by the Avalanche themselves.  The Avs are traditionally very closed off to the media.

But tradition has a way of falling when confronted with new successes, and as the blogoshphere has proven, success is available.  Examples like the Capitals, Predators, and Islanders have shown that bloggers can be healthy additions to the media availability.  They can provide what the papers can’t, won’t or don’t have time for.  They can be a positive addition to the ranks of the press box.  And now, more than ever, it’s time.

This summer, I’m asking for an Avs blogger summit.  A meeting of the bloggers who want to be granted credentials or given access to the Avalanche.  This would be an initial first step in collectively seeking to work with the Avalanche to get in the door.  I’m asking for this in the spirit of inclusiveness, to get many perspectives.

This will not be an overnight process.  Bloggers of many stripes have been around for years waiting for the opportunity.  But if the mountain won’t come to us, it’s time for us to go to the mountain.

If you’re interested, please let me know in the “contact me” link up above, or click here.  Lets do this.

Open Post: What Media Outlets Do You Like

I’ve been thinking a lot about the hockey media lately. If you believe twitter, there isn’t much to like about the MSM hockey media. I don’t completely buy it, but sometimes I struggle to think about who I am drawn to in the media.

So I’m asking you for your thoughts and conversation. The comments are open. What mainstream media outlets do you like? Which ones do you have respect for? What reporters do you like, and what do you like about them?