By Jon Fucile
The NHL, unfortunately for hockey fans, is often the distant fourth among the four major sports and if the job done by the crack team of NHL marketers for the All-Star Game is any indication, no one should really be surprised. They are a league that is so out of touch with their audience and a calendar that were surprised they can function at all.
When the commercials for the All-Star Game debuted and featured Meant to Live by Switchfoot, we immediately became worried. That song debuted in 2003 and wasnt even that good then. But hey, obviously the NHL did their homework and found out fans loved that song. Right? RIGHT?!
It only got worse. Leading up to the game, the NHL announced that Clay Aiken would sing the National Anthem. Sure hes from Raleigh, but what were the NHL marketing people smoking when they thought hockey fans would tune in to see Clay Aiken?
Aiken finished second in American Idol in 2003 and hasnt done much since. Really. Name the last song he had on the radio that isnt at least five years old. We dare you. Well wait . . .
. . . see? NHL marketing 0-2.
At least Aiken is from Raleigh, so in some weird way it almost, sort of, kind of, maybe a little bit, makes sense. Did they NHL think they would draw in new fans if they brought in Aiken? Pretty sure they over estimated his drawing power. Fans could not possibly have been less interested.
Then the NHL announced their first intermission entertainment.
Surely the NHL would pick someone relevant. Maybe a recent star. Maybe theyd look at the current Top 40 songs and pick someone, anyone, fans would recognize. The NHL then announced theyd be bringing in . . . Three Doors Down!
Wait . . . who? Didnt they have a song about 20 years ago?
When Three Doors Down started playing during the first intermission, all three of their fans in the crowd went bananas. If you listened closely, with one of those old time ear horns up to your ear, you could even hear a few Woos!
Luckily it was dark in the arena because whenever there was a speck of light during their set you could see an empty arena, fans predictably much more interested in grabbing a pretzel and a beer than seeing a band whose hit song is almost 10 years old. They couldve just played a Now Thats What I Call Music 5 CD and got the same reaction without actually have to pay Three Doors Down to appear. What did that marketing meeting look like?
When Three Doors Down eventually played their one hit, Kryptonite, there were still roughly just five people cheering. Why the NHL thought a band that hasnt been relevant since the Kennedy administration would be a big hit amongst fans beats us.
We havent seen a team of people screw up this much and be this wrong since the crew that built the Titanic said it could stand up to icebergs.
Generally when people are this bad at their jobs, they get fired. Unless you work for the NHL. No wonder theyre considered the fourth-class citizens of the sports world.
Its like that episode of South Park, Prehistoric Ice Man, where the kids found a man who has been frozen for 32 months and cant cope with the fact that he has awaken in 1999. But instead of 32 months, the NHL marketing department apparently was frozen for over eight years and still thinks Three Doors Down, Switchfoot and Clay Aiken are relevant, cool and exciting.
Maybe while theyre at it the NHL can bring back that glowing puck. NHL fans loved that. And by loved with mean loathed.
We can only imagine what their To Do list for All-star weekend looked like.
Maybe someday the NHL will hire competent people that understand its audience and understand how to attract new fans. Sure, Clay Aiken probably brought the American Idol crowd over to watch hockey. Of course. Seriously.
But hey, us NHL fans are used to failure like this. Cant wait for the 2012 All-Star where Hinder will perform their hit song Lips of an Angel. Were sure that will bring in huge ratings.