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Monday, August 13, 2007

The Clock Ticks Away

That's right, just less than a month away from the start of NHL training camps and still many teams have yet to unveil the new uniforms they'll be sporting this year and likely out of fear of a complete fan backlash. Only a handful of teams have unleashed Reebok's fury upon the eyes of the public, and perhaps delaying things til the absolute latest time possible is the right thing to do.

I'm disappointed with the league for a lot of reasons and one of them is for this all-consuming, overwhelming edict from the Captain of the Titanic Bettman to have all teams change up everything they were doing and give into Reebok (since they're a big time sponsor of the league now and everything) and let them design everyone's uniforms in the way they feel will enhance performance the best. We caught a glimpse of what these uniforms will be like at the All-Star Game as well as in the World Junior Championships and the Olympics in Turin, Italy.

This, in a nutshell, is Capt. Bettman's management plan to fix everything that's gone wrong with the NHL since he's taken over. Have some marketing guru come up with a big plan, pony up the money and materials to pull it off, and he willingly allows the game to become his testing ground for it. So long history, so long nostalgia, so long to everything that ever worked before - this new and fangled operation will surely work best!

After all, it's got a record of not having failed already! Nevermind that Reebok had fallen off the marketing map when it came to athletic apparel and sneaker sales, Reebok was big when the NHL was last big in the eyes of the world! The early 1990's! Coincidence? NO WAY! It's gotta be truth!

In comes Reebok with their new designs and Bettman doing his best to suck up to them and tout how much they're going to improve the game and the performance of the players (not to mention their comfort!) while ignoring the actual problems with the game. You know... the kind that would take competent officials on and off the ice to fix.

Paul Lukas who contributes to ESPN.com's Page 2 periodically runs his own website where any and all logo and uniform changes are analyzed and applauded (or roasted) depending on how they turn out and his eye has been keenly tuned in on the mangling we've seen with the NHL uniforms. He particularly lashed out at the Florida Panthers new designs and the apparent lack of originality being used by other teams following the same kind of cookie cutter format to detailing (Nashville also has the same style and another team he wasn't at liberty to mention used it and is apparently uglier than Florida...yikes).

Now I say this is a bad thing for the NHL because, what do the hardcore fans always buy? Jerseys of course. NHL fans are die-hards for sure, but by slimming down the jerseys and making a point to say that they're not designing these with the fans in mind...well really NHL, why not just kick us all in the teeth while you're at it? Lots of fans now have outdated jerseys that will never see the light of day again all while being told that while they can purchase the new ones being made, they're going to cost a lot more than the previous ones both for authentics and replicas.

So if you're marking this all down in your scorebooks the owners:

- Continue to jack up ticket prices
- Don't think twice about doing "premium pricing" for when certain opponents are in town
- Have made any and all previous team purchases by fans obsolete
- Created a new product and line of products without even taking the fan into consideration
- Made it so that the cost for the new product is significantly higher (when it was pricey to begin with)

The NHL wonders why it can't earn new fans when all it does is kick dirt in the face of the fans they've already got. Incredible.


Matt P. said...

It becomes more apparent each dumb decision why David Stern allowed Bettman to go to the NHL. Every decision he makes is bad, almost the reverse of the Midas touch.

New jerseys? Were the fans demanding anything new and if so, how did he find out?

Hockey Joe said...

The fans demanded none of this is the thing - this all came down from on high from Heir Bettman and the check-writers from Reebok. Apparently new fabric technology means having to re-do most everything.

Some teams are resisting the urge at least (Rangers, Detroit).