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Hey Gary! There are more than two players in the National Hockey League

March 27, 2010

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Dear Gary Bettman,

You have more than two players in the league.  Please, market other guys.

Sincerely,

All the potential hockey fans in the Unites States

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The NHL desperately needs to market more stars.  There is a slew of exciting talent and potential for marketing that the NHL fails to capitalize on.  We know Crosby and Ovechkin are great.  Now tell fans about everyone else in the league.

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Look at the NBA.   They have their Crosby and Ovechkin.  Their names are LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.  But you know what?  The NBA also has Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett…need I go on?  The NBA markets more than just two of their top stars.  Sure basketball is more popular in the United States, but that’s partly because more people know more of the players.

Steven Stamkos

Does the NHL really think that fans won’t like guys like Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Steven Stamkos, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane?  We need more commercials featuring these guys.  More promos with these guys.  More hype around their games.  These guys have personalities.  Look at the way Shaq and Howard have fun with the NBA media…have you ever googled Pavel Datsyuk?  He can barely speak English, but he’s a box of fun.  He loves James Brown for goodness sake.  He could even fill a highlight roll by himself that could get fans hooked for life.  They’d fall in love with his personality and his game.

Take Zach Parise for example.  He stole the heart of American’s everywhere when he tied the gold medal game up with 30 seconds left.  What did the NHL do to capitalize on that moment? Nothing.  Imagine the promotions they could do?  How about a slow motion highlight of Parise’s game tying goal set to dramatic music.  Then give me Jack Bauer saying, ”You want clutch?  We’ve got clutch.  The best players in the world are here in the NHL and anything is possible.”  Then morph a shot of Parise in a USA jersey to a shot of him in his Devils’ uni and promote a Devils vs. Flyers first round playoff game on Versus or something.

Zach Parise

Does the NHL really think that wouldn’t hook fans?  They’d eat it up.  I know I would.  Plus who doesn’t love Kiefer Sutherland?  Can’t go wrong with Jack Bauer.  There are more great players in this league that need to be recognized.

But Jeff, the NHL doesn’t have ESPN to market them!   So freakin’ what.  You don’t need ESPN to be a successful sports league.  Would it help?  Of course it would.  But I can say this about Versus, it has come a whole hell of a long way since it took over hockey coverage as Outdoor Life Network.  Their in-studio set and especially their TV graphics are so much better this year.  They have finally worked out a deal with Direct TV too.

I’ve read rumors that Versus is working on starting an hour long sports news, highlights, and entertain show set to run at 11pm.  A show head-to-head with Sportscenter will get crushed, but if Versus plays it’s cards right, they can get a sustainable audience to be successful.

Seriously, when’s the last time you saw hockey on ESPN?  The answer: the last time Sid and Ovie played against each other.  Other than when those two play, you’d be lucky to get a highlight over 15 seconds.

I’m a hockey fan.  At the end of the day when I watch a sports highlight show, I want to see what happened in the hockey world.  Versus can capitalize on that.  If they are looking to poach anyone from ESPN, go for Steve Levy.  He’s the best hockey guy they’ve got.  Leave John Buccigross, Barry Melrose, and Matthew Barnaby in Bristol.  If you’re going after hockey guys, go get Gary Thorne and Bill Clement.  Listening to those two call a hockey game was like sweet music to my ears.  Anyone remember those Hockey Falls Bud Light commercial?  Clement, Clement, Hands of Cement.  Man, I miss those guys.

As far as other hockey guys go, keep Bill Patrick in studio. Keep Doc Emerick around.  The man is good at what he does.  Drop Eddie Olychk.  Lose Pierre McGuire.  Keith Jones can stay, Brian Engblom too (if he gets a haircut), and bring Darren McCarty in full-time.  And most importantly, hire me.  Just kidding…but seriously, if anyone from Comcast or Versus is reading this, shoot me an email.  I’m your man.

Versus needs to start to build their show around hockey.  Capture that audience at the 11pm time slot and then branch out from there.  It won’t happen overnight, but with the right people in place, they could start something with this.  At the very least, give us hockey fans a 30 minute hockey highlight show every night.  Long live the good old days of NHL2Night, eh?

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