So we recently saw the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. A few days latter we saw the Colorado Avalanche select Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick at the NHL draft, then we saw a slew of players change teams as part of free agency frenzy. Pretty cool for a hockey fan eh? Well maybe yes maybe no. C’mon people we just came out of a 48 game NHL shortened by the lockout season where players continue to become millionaires for (let’s be honest half assed efforts on moist nights). Now because management is financially incompetent we are seeing players get bought out, collect portions of the salary and sign another contract with other teams (see: Vinny Lecalvier).
As a hockey fan, I don’t know who is making it worse, the players? The League? The Agents? The Management? It seems like the fans are getting the shaft from all angles. It really is tough being a hockey fan in this day and age. Is the NHL doing enough for their hockey fans? The National Hockey League has always been a business. Just look at the NHL team worth in 2013, teams are now worth billions of dollars. The League, and its players, are sharing record profits all at the hands of yup, you guessed it us hockey fans.
So the lockout ended and the league and players kept the season alive to earn hundreds of millions of dollars. Do you know what they did for hockey fans? They charged us a discounted $50 for the Center Ice package (perhaps a free season would have been more sufficient?) I still had to pay to watch the NHL this season? Sheesh. Then the NHL, at the start of the season, had a brief discount on their online store for merchandise. I personally went to nhl.com to make a purchase but the discount had expired. It was offered for like just over a week. What’s up with that. Again perhaps extend the discount for a month or perhaps the entire season? Nope we can’t let the fans experience some of our wealth and affect our bottom line right?
Of course individual teams held contests and events to win back and thank the fans for their patience. Ok well that is cool if you live in an NHL city, but what about the millions of fans that live outside NHL markets? So then the NHL announced a series of outdoor “Winter Classic” type games… for the fans right? Wait a second, do you kow how much the NHL makes from these events? These outdoor events are bit of a cash cow for the League and the players. Again what do the fans get? Perhaps an opportunity to sit outside in the nose bleeds with their binoculars just to catch a glimpse of their team (if their team is fortunate to get a chance to play in one of these events). Again nice job NHL. Some fans might appreciate this, but what is in it for the masses of hockey fans?
So is the NHL doing enough for its fans? I think that there is room for improvement. Hey NHL marketing team here are a couple of options to consider.
5 Things the NHL Can Do to Earn Respect with the Fans
1. Establish NHL pop-up store in markets outside NHL Cities – take a note from the band Kiss whose current Canadian tour is including smaller atypical venues that other bands rarely, if ever play. The Lethbridges and Kelownas of the world. This would allow NHL fans to get NHL merchandise in person at a pop-up store in their own town.
2. Give fans Center Ice for a full season – you want to market the product better? Let people who previously purchased Center Ice in the past three years have the opportunity to have a free season for 2013-2014.
3. Free Autographs – have the NHL players all 700+ sign 8X10 photos or pucks and use social media to allow fans to receive an autograph from their favorite NHLer. Base it on all-star voting and as the fans vote they select their favorite player (once only) and receive an autographed photo.
4. NHL.com Discounts – offers of up to 50% for select merchandise.
5. Contests – where the NHL would give away merchandise, tickets to NHL events and replica Stanley Cups to fans who submit a testimonial of why they think that hockey is the greatest sport in the world.
Sure it would cost a little bit of change to do it, but quite honestly the game has been experiencing record profits yet delivering a watered down product. Hockey fans deserve more. Let us know what you think of the NHL and how they treat their fans.
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