Spree pundits opine on the local
Jan 14, 2011
07:49 AMState of Play
The NHL's latest marketing gimmick is comical
Perhaps only the most rabid hockey fans—the ones who proudly own commemorative gold-plated copies of Slapshot and Youngblood DVDs—might have heard of or seen the NHL's latest marketing endeavor.
For the rest of you, check them out here. They're created by comic book kigpin Stan Lee, who brought us Spider-Man, and I'm supposed to think he's an important literary champion. I'm all for creative marketing—this one's an obvious offering to youngsters and gamers—but these things seem so, um ... hokey.
And if you've got kids, by the way, you might want to steer them clear of the downright creepy Jersey Devil character. This thing makes the Nosferatu monster look like a cuddly Golden Retriever puppy.
More than likely, it's for the man-boys wishing to fulfill fantasies by using their favorite team's character in World of Warcraft. I guess if the league is desperate enough for that demographic, go for it. I can't rightly pontificate over an attempt to capitalize on a market in an attempt to boost the league's profile.
But when the guardians of the game resort to this kind of cheesy gimmickry, they come off looking desperate and silly. The "heroes" series' heart might be in the right place, but it seems destined to become a punchline we someday look back on with equal parts ridicule and scorn.
Apparently only the "heroes" for the Bruins, Wild, Lightning, Oilers, Sharks, Predators and that up-to-no-good Devil have been released. Some pics of the Sabres' "hero" have leaked. And it ain't pretty.
Switching gears but staying on the NHL's official website, it lost a little more credibility in this corner when it teased with headline "Why the Rangers Can Win the Stanley Cup." Solid group, but hardly the team you'd place bets on for a spirited run into May, let alone June.
What happens if Marian Gaborik gets hurt or Hank Lundqvist slumps? At least Buffalo fans and observers don't have delusions about the limits of the Sabres. Or at least they shouldn't.
It's just that the NHL wants so desperately for the Rangers to be relevant again. I wonder if, adhering to his responsibility to rid the hockey world of true villains, the New York "Ranger" hero would rout Sean Avery out of Manhattan?
I leave with a note about football, where it's becoming clearer and clearer that the NFL and the Players Union are headed for a labor war. Are they stupid, greedy and stubborn enough to repeat the NHL's horrid blackout in 2004-05? You betchya.
The Sabres organization was reborn after the lockout, soaring to some of its best historical heights. It was intoxicating for us fans, so if an NFL stoppage paves the way for the Bills to follow that storyline, suddenly a year without pro football doesn't seem that bad.