Round two is officially in the books as one of the most unforgettable rounds of recent Stanley Cup Playoff history. Let’s now take some time to evaluate some of the more memorable events that transpired over the past few weeks from a media perspective, with an early edition of the HD Corner.
The second round was a sports marketer’s dream, featuring four amazing series, with three Game 7’s. This round probably couldn’t have unfolded any better for the NHL’s exposure south of the boarder, and I’ll explain…
Although the Pens – Caps Game 7 was a dud, the series basically showcased the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson of hockey’s new era (Crosby vs. Ovechkin, not Cooke vs. Steckel). The only downside was that these two teams weren’t able to meet when their teams were deeper in the playoffs. As far as the Carolina series goes, it is nice to see Canes fans jumping back on board with the team, despite several poor campaigns after their cup victory in ’06. Wanna bet that this Carolina team would be in discussion of unstable franchises like Phoenix, Florida and Atlanta had they not done so well this year? Sure, Boston does represent a larger market than Carolina, but when franchise stability has been a hot topic of late, I’m sure NHL brass weren’t too disappointed that there will be excitement in Carolina through at least the end of May. And with both the Wings and Blackhawks advancing, two more large U.S. markets will be represented anyways. With message boards being flooded with comments from U.S. fans such as “why isn’t the game on a network that I get in my market”, the NHL may finally have broken through clutter that consists of ten-pin bowling, dog shows, and bass fishing. Maybe Bettman will finally get his dream of a big national TV deal…nah, just kidding.
TSN and CBC: the new Sonny and Cher?
In case you missed it, TSN and CBC twice worked together when airing games in the second round to avoid scheduling conflicts. Basically, CBC got Game 1 of the Ducks – Wings series from TSN in exchange for Game 6 of Pens – Caps series. TSN apparently had a conflict between Game 1 of the Bruins – Canes series, some Nascar crap, and Game 1 of the Ducks – Wings series, hence the switch. It is finally nice to see these two networks helping each other out and getting along, even after the “Hockey Anthem” debacle (and not seen since Bob Cole was on TSN during a few 2006 olympic Broadcasts) as explained here by the Toronto Star. CBC definitely got the short end of the stick on that deal based on the crazy Captials OT victory in Game 6. But, considering that no one knew the Pens – Caps series would go to at least 6 games, it made the deal more of a safe bet for CBC. Then last night, instead of TSN and TSN2 each airing a game, TSN gave CBC Game 7 of the Ducks – Wings series. Obviously CBC is a winner here, but has to give TSN a game later on in the playoffs. No word yet if TSN made CBC take on 1/3rd of Dave Hodge’s contract with this deal (or as the Toronto Star column speculates, Jennifer Hedger’s hair). In reality, I guess the fans were the real winners here, in that TSN didn’t have to use TSN2.
Empty Seats at the Joe!?
And finally, “you know what really grinds my gears” (Griffin, 2006)? The fact that apparently you could still buy tickets to Game 5 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit minutes before puck drop – at least according to CBC play-by-play man Jim Hughson. I don’t care if every signle General Motors plant is shut down throughout Windsor and Detroit – how can this happen? Have people’s discretionary income decreased that drastically since the recession? Enough of Economics Class 101, here is an interesting article regarding the Yankee’s recent troubles of selling tickets and ticket pricing strategies.