Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ricky Bobby, meet Sidney Crosby!

The NHL is anxious to reverse it fortunes in the Deep South, with a number franchises showing more than a red line on the bank books and interest on the wane, there is talk that the league is approaching the grand daddy of all marketing kings of the deep south, NASCAR to lend a hand.

Or to be precise they want to poach from NASCAR, Eddie Gossage said to the be the brains behind the NASCAR explosion of the last ten years is reportedly being wooed by Gary Bettman and his New York suits for a little tender lovin’ care for the game on ice.

While we probably won’t be seeing Dale Earnhardt or Kyle Petty peeling out with the Zambonis between periods, nor will we see the Iceland 500, Gossage would be expected to bring the NHL a higher profile. Having taken the car circuit from the dusty back lots of rural America to one of the lynch pins of television and a marketing man’s dream he could be the one to revise the declining fortunes of the NHL in America.

Sponsorships are the key to NASCAR with the corporate elite of the States lined up waiting for a chance to tie their product to the racing scene, the NHL which at the moment is a little light in the marketing minds of America’s big brands would probably be happy with but one tenth of the power that NASCAR brings to the table these days.

It’s sure to be an interesting move if it should go forward, probably one that will continue to ignore the Canadian backwaters and concentrate on the buying power of the big American cities. What remains to be seen however, is one simple fact, after all the fancy marketing is done and the sideshows have ended, will there yet be hockey fans in some of the more troubled markets of the south.

So far the evidence is against the concept, the Atlanta’s, Miami’s and such haven’t really adopted the game as their own yet, maybe they need some sizzle, but in the end we have to wonder if they will ever want the steak!

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