1. 4.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Hockey Christmas Letter to Santa Gary - Frozen Pill

Here I am, at the end of the line at the end of the day.
Everyone is tired but I will have my say.

Before Santa arrives, I must convey my wish.
If but for a moment, your ear I must bend, Commish.

Dear Bettman Claus, before you check your list, here are my wishes three.
I'll keep it short, you'll get the gist, and the cookies are by the tree.

1. Turn the Barn Upside Down. It's not a Christmas gift I or any other fan could expect this season. But it is something to consider as the league continues to find new and better ways to market the game to both the old-school, die-hard hockey fan and our beloved converts. As Big Tex proposed, in short, I ask the NHL and affiliated businesses to begin to modify barns, making the upper bowl more uppity-crusty (think luxury sections, not just luxury suites) with food and drink service and other such amenities. The view from up yonder is actually a better view of the game and would warrant appropriate adjustments to pricing as needs be. And as Big Tex pointed out, "it's not without historical precedent: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre"

And we all know our game is as equally worthy as Shakespeare.

Give the lower bowl to the rowdy-louds. Have season seats in both top and bottom available but let's see what the home crowd can do the decibel level if seating is swapped around. I bet 'noise' prompting wouldn't even be needed on the Jumbotron.

Seriously, I am skipping over too many great details on why it's worth considering so please read Big Tex's proposal here.

And because a Christmas Wish List can sometimes be expansive in it's breadth (if you throw enough darts....), I would ask, while preparing the above changes, also consider a reduction in season ticket prices (to have more seats sold before the season starts) and incorporate 'dynamic pricing' for all seats still available for game day in every barn around the league.

If I find myself free on any given night and I decide to take in a game, I should be able to call, or go online at the team's site, or step up to the ticket booth an hour before a game and, if there are only 100 seats left, pay a premium for mine.

However, if I am on Long Island and do the same and there are 5,000 seats available an hour before game time...Well, let's just see what we can work out here.

You know, just asking.

2. The second item on my wish list needs very little encouragement and just may be on most hockey fan's (and teams?) wish lists this holiday season. Get Rid of the "Instigator" Rule. Let the the teams and the players police the ice after the refs have done their job (or have failed to do so). If needs be, additional minors, majors and misconducts can be assessed. And all actions can be reviewed by the head office after the fact with additional discipline metered by the league, if necessary.

But let the players demand the respect they often afford others...and let those same players deal with any small percentage of 'hunters' who don't play the game remembering, in the end, it's a game. How you are still welcome in any locker room is beyond me, Mr. Bertuzzi.

3. Embrace The New Media. Teams that sell out most nights may not be as quick to realize the impact hockey blogs are having on the fan-base and the growing online community of sports fans who read and contribute to these discussions. But some of the 'non-traditional' market teams have seen the glowing light emanating from monitors across the world and have begun their own outreach through the venues of New Media to grow discussion, interest and eventually enthusiasm for their brand.

Bettman Claus, perhaps you could encourage all 30 teams to at least explore a 'working' relationship with this new means of spreading the word about our great game to fans far and wide, old and new. And please continue to implement innovative articles and writers from various blog sources into NHL.com content as you have done this season.

Kudos to the Atlanta Thrashers for hosting two 'Blogger Days' wherein New Media types were given press access to the game and immersion into the game-day operation. Good out to the Nashville Predators who have granted full press credentials to some bloggers, allowing for in-depth and passionate hockey coverage, such as is the case with our friend, Buddy over at PredsontheGlass.com

And a major 'stick-banging of the boards on the other side of the bench' to the New York Islanders for having had this foresight in attempts to grow their fan-base by being the first organization (in 2006!) to implement 'a Bloggers Box' as part of the game-day press efforts.

To you teams, and the others who are embracing creative ways to grow the team brand and spread the love of the game, we say, 'good shift'.

To you teams who have not yet felt the 'need' or are still confused as to whether or not hockey blogging is simply a trend, I submit the decline of the print media as your decree from Caesar Augustus. And although we're not the Christmas Star, burning bright in the night of the off-season, the glow from our monitors shines in our eyes and in the eyes of millions of hockey fans worldwide - night in and night - out as we scour space and time for unique insight into the Greatest Game ever given to man.

And the message is here to stay.

From all of us at OGA to you and yours, Happy Boxing Day and all the other warm, season's greetings that make you feel good when said to ye.

Happy Hockey to all. And to all, a good fight.

take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com

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