Archive for the ‘marketing ideas’ Category

Afternoon Cycle: You are fooorrrrgiiiiiven

March 30, 2009

Note: If you haven’t read Chris Kontos’ Hockey in Japan piece, make sure you do that first. It is absolutely essential reading.

  • There might not be many of you out there with the privilege of seeing much of the NCAA hockey tournament, but it’s been pretty awesome.

Still, deep down, as ESPN U or whatever affiliate covers these games, there’s this other feeling: the strong urge to plead for the NHL’s return to the four-lettered network. Admit it, you thought that as ESPN’s beautiful HD washed over you and creative, interesting camera angles came about.

Now, don’t get us wrong. ESPN left hockey bruised and battered entering the lockout. What’s the best parallel? Should we go to that Rhianna getting roughed up by Chris Brown well again? Or maybe kick it old school with a Bobby Brown-Whitney Houston or really really old school with Ike and Tina Turner?

(It’s amazing how many abusive music industry relationships involve people who either go by only their first name or don’t share a last name. Is the modern era hyphenated last name trend a catalyst for violence? Of course not, but it’s always fun to establish arbitrary reasoning for such things. Violence = not funny; outlandishness = quite funny.)

Either way, it’s obvious that ESPN’s sending subtle little flowers to hockey at work. A hockey highlight prominently displayed in the Sportscenter Top 10? Ohhh you shouldn’t have! Mentioning a hockey player other than Sidney Crosby? Maybe you can change!

Mike Chen, the wily veteran that he is, beat us to the “ESPN should televise NHL games on Thursdays” soap box but it still deserves to be mentioned. Think about it: Thursday is not a designated day for any sport, really. The NHL has three days of the week where the games are bountiful: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Versus covers Tuesday, Hockey Night in Canada owns Saturday … so why not Thursday Night Hockey on ESPN?

They wouldn’t even have to leave Versus, a cable channel we’d compare to an overweight, slightly dopey wife with a heart of gold. Sure, you can’t really brag about her with your office buds at the water cooler. And her production values are pretty terrible. And she never seems to rent the right movies/pick the right games. But she loves you and needs you. That’s got to count for something.

(Ugh, OK, no more bad analogies … until the next bullet point. Ho ho gotcha suckers!)

  • NHL Network was showing Game 7 of the Carolina Hurricanes – Edmonton Oilers SCF, which seemed shockingly old since it was in the pre or early HD era.

Still, it’s stunning just how much energy permeated every cell of that game. Dirty hits were thrown about like 10-cent tacos. Scoring chances abounded. Naturally, there were some GREAT playoff beards.

It really got us pumped for the playoffs. The long grind is almost over, everyone. Are you as excited as we are?

  • Does every NHL season see so many random, out-of-left field surges as this one? At any given time, there seems to be at least one or two RED HOT teams. Right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are hot but they have big name stars so that’s not too shocking.

The two biggest surprises are the St. Louis Blues and the Carolina Hurricanes. We might take a deeper look at those two teams if possible. Either way, it seems like an odd trend but maybe we’re just paying closer attention these days.

  • Despite only recording one assist between eight guys on Saturday, the Funkillers managed to pull the tights and put their legs on the ropes to advance on to the fantasy hockey finals. The hero of Sunday was Roberto Luongo whose shutout, literally, was the only way this fictional team could win.

We know you don’t care, but just look at how close this was:

Crosby vs. Ovechkin: Everyone needs a good villain

February 25, 2009

After Sunday’s Washington – Pittsburgh game got a little ugly, it seemed there was a line drawn in the sand.

On one side, there are people who think Alex Ovechkin is light years ahead of Sidney Crosby. People who cannot stand Crosby’s whining or bland, vanilla personality.

On the other side: Penguins fans.

For a long time, it seemed like Crosby just needed to open up. Over the years, there’ve been rumors of Crosby being gay (whether those rumors are faint, in my head or Tom Cruise-level widespread is irrelevant) and that didn’t seem crazy to me. The guy still lives in Mario Lemieux‘s basement (doesn’t he?) and to my knowledge has only been photographed with women while promoting his Reebok clothing line. No saucy Russian blondes wrapping themselves around Sid the Kid. At least not in public.

That’s the strangest thing. For a league that barely generates high-end marketing, Crosby is the closest thing to “overexposed” the NHL can muster. Yet, does anyone really even know the guy? He could be gay. He could be a huge fan of “comedian” Sinbad. Hell, he might collect Pogs and Magic cards. None of this seems unreasonable because I know nothing of “the next, next one.”

But maybe that’s for the best because every league needs an “Elvis vs. the Beatles” type debate. And like NBA officiating, NFL replays and the BCS, controversies get people arguing and generate free publicity. If hockey fans found out that Crosby actually is a pretty solid guy, it would take all the fun and the fervor out of it for many Sid-haters.

The NBA’s breakthrough era came with the Bird vs. Magic rivalry, two players who seemed both sublimely skilled and diametrically opposed. Magic played for the run-and-gun Lakers, coached by then-Hollywood-ized Pat Reilly; Bird was the leader of a Celtics team soaked in tradition, the last basketball team to win championships with two goofy looking white dudes as their best players.

You could appreciate both teams, but ultimately it came down to a choice. And that’s a lot more fun than being in the middle.

When you talk about “best player” it’s a Malkin vs. Ovechkin vs. Crosby battle, but the fight that sells tickets is Crosby vs. Ovie. Two players who couldn’t be more different. Ovechkin takes nine shots a game, throws his body all over the ice and is wilder than a tornado. Passing is an afterthought to him. Crosby threads some of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see, plays an all-effort game on both ends of the ice and is as bland as unflavored yogurt. He over-passes almost to a fault.

On some level, we need to sit back and enjoy this. Keep in mind: this is far from settled; Crosby can barely buy a six-pack right now.

I’ll leave you with this thought originally posted on Battle of California:

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. “The Hitman” Bret Hart: Not a bad parallel to the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry when you think about it. Austin/Ovechkin appeal to the simple fan with brashness and aggressiveness; Hart/Crosby are vaguely whiny, undeniably talented Canadians. Crosby might even have a disturbing obsession with baby oil and strange sunglasses for all we know.”

Morning cycle: NBC drops the ball again

February 16, 2009

  • To the surprise of few, NBC indeed picked the wrong game on Sunday.
The peacock decided to go for a yawn-inducing big market game we’ve seen five million times (New York Rangers vs. Philly Flyers) instead of a game featuring two of the five best teams in the league. What did they get? Henrik Lundqvist getting pulled in the second period of a matchup that probably was decided well before that.

San Jose Sharks at New Jersey Devils, aka the game that NBC should have chosen, ended up being a wild 6-5 game. (At least, that’s what highlights and recaps indicate) Judging from the great audience attracted by the big Boston Bruins – San Jose Sharks last Tuesday, it seems that NBC misjudged demand.
It goes further than that. This is the another reason that the NHL needs to think seriously about the quality of its coverage beyond dollars and cents, even if Versus provides bush league coverage at times. How many times can the league tolerate NBC’s “whatevah, hockey” approach? Shouldn’t the NHL do everything it can to introduce the San Jose Sharks (easily one of the three favorites for the Cup) to casual viewing hockey audiences? Is the league really going to stick with a network that relocated an intense overtime playoff hockey game for the PRESHOW of a horse race?

(Let that last sentence marinate in your soul.)

As usual, Puck the Media features great coverage of NBC’s short-sighted decision.

We know, we know, it’s a small-market game, and Sharks fans would be forced to awaken at the ungodly hour of 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning for a hockey gam(Something we, mind you, have always dreamed of). But this is the PERFECT weekend to try it out. Competition for the audience that’d be watching a hockey game is pretty slim. The NBA All-Star Game isn’t till primetime, and the Daytona 500 doesn’t feature much of a hockey-friendly audience (Prove me wrong, Raleigh). This is the one chance the NHL has to experiment with a game that might just draw the passing fancy of some channel-flipper and they missed.

  • Moving on to happier news, Mike Green managed to break the record for consecutive goals scored by a defenseman.
Could it be safe to say already, even counting their Cinderella run to the Cup Finals in the Bondra era, this might be the best season for the Capitals? Beyond that, the Capitals remind me of a revamp of the ’90s Detroit Red Wings teams.

Look at all the Russians in high-ranking spots. Obviously, it all starts with Alex Ovechkin, but there are a lot of big responsibility guys on that roster who are Russian. Whenever he’s healthy, Alex Semin is blossoming into an elite forward. Viktor Kozlov might seem like an underachiever but he’s a nice addition (or as Japer’s Rink called him, “a Lebowski rug”) to the Capitals. Hell, they even employ former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov.
  • Which team is third best in the Western Conference? Because of divisional playoff seeding, the Calgary Flames should slip into the third spot. That being said, the best team after juggernauts in Detroit and San Jose might just be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago destroyed the Dallas Stars 6-2 after putting together a nice 5-3 record during an eight-game road trip. After facing three more road games in a row, the Blackhawks won’t face more than two back-to-back road games.

It probably won’t allow Chicago to put any pressure on division-leading Detroit. However, the easy road ahead might allow the Blackhawks to go into the playoffs with some momentum and relative good health.
  • The Penguins fired Michel Therrien this weekend.
Normally, it’s ridiculously unfair to fire a coach who managed to lead a team to the Cup finals the year before but context is important. My guess is a highly trained dolphin could coach last year’s Penguins team to at least the Conference finals.

At the same time, Therrien deserves credit for shepherding the young Penguins from cellar dweller to contender. Who knows how much of it was Therrien, but at times the Pens looked to have “good defensive team” potential, a rare sentence even for Pittsburgh’s golden era.

One thing that bothers me (and usually, only NBC guys say these kind of things) is how much certain pundit-idiots weigh Marian Hossa‘s absence for being a big reason for the Penguins missing the playoffs.

Hossa played 12 regular season games for Pittsburgh, so ease off the accelerator on that one. He gave the Penguins an extra gear, but that mattered in the post-season, not in making the playoffs. Just a pet peeve.

Therrien’s firing is justified but seemed like it could have waited until the summer. It’s not the fault of HCMT (credit Pensblog) that the Penguins are having a miserable season. That falls on the players shoulders first, Ray Shero’s next and then HCMT. But HCMT is the easiest guy to fire and that’s that.

It’s looking more and more improbable for the Penguins to make the playoffs. The question is: does it even matter if they make it? It seems hard to imagine this team making a Cinderella run right now.

Ways to improve the All-Star Game

January 7, 2009

In case you haven’t seen it, Sporting News‘s Craig Custance asked the hockey world how the league should improve the All-Star game. There’s a lot of neat (and a few crazy) ideas in there, but why not throw in a few more? Some of these might be reaches or smell like mad science. Just roll with it.

First, a few of my favorites from the article:

Love the pickup game idea

Is there anything cooler than the idea of highly paid professional athletes acting out an experience almost any non-home schooled person went through in junior high? Just imagine players weighing skill versus friendships versus their teammate’s egos would be great. Seeing which players were picked last probably would be the best part of all.

Also, helmets off is a must

Maybe we’d find there’s a guy whose eyes bug out when he sees some open net like a modern day Rocket Richard.

Any excuse for international ice is a good excuse

Since the league would never give up that prime seat revenue, we’ll probably never get the kind of open ice that could really make a bigger difference than less organic moves like widening the net. So at least tantalize audiences with the larger ice surface for the All-Star game.

Now, a few of my own:

Real estate and All-Star games: all about location

In the last few years, the league keeps shoehorning teams into opening their seasons in Europe. If those teams struggle, fans immediately (and not completely unjustifiably) blame said struggles on the extra travel.

And look at the New York Rangers this season. It seemed like a brilliant idea to have the Rangers play in the Czech Republic … until Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka left the NHL. That’s not to say that those games were failures because of a lack of prominent Czechs, but no doubt the league must have been thinking hometown fans would love to see Jagr play in those games.

Put the ASG in Amsterdam or Paris or Rome or some other awesome, tourist-y location and watch the mainstream media members suddenly catch hockey fever. Plus, having All-Stars instead of NHL teams play would allow people who never see the Crosbys and Ovechkins in person get to watch a bunch of big names at once.

Before you say “but the big names won’t show up” … don’t you think Martin Brodeur would be more inclined to play if the game was featured in some exotic location instead of, say, Columbus, Ohio?

And to take care of issues with travel:

Move the All-Star Game to the preseason

This would make the traveling concerns weaken. Also, instead of wedging the All-Star game in the middle of the season, why not play it when people are jonesing for hockey? By positioning it in late January, people already have seen 40-50 games per team. But hold it in September and hockey fans will be much more likely to tune in. And if you’re worried about competition from the NFL, just televise it on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

If an outdoor game becomes an annual event, why not give the ASG at least one snowflake boost?

Imagine watching the best players in the world skating and passing in an environment like Wrigley Field. Sooner or later, the novelty of the Winter Classic will wear off for the non-diehard hockey people so making one of the outdoor games an ASG would keep it fresh. What you’d lose in hometown team ratings you might just gain in nationwide ratings (maybe).


These events are that one time of their year when people don’t need to worry about empty shootout points, dirty hits and other scandals. So why not have a little fun with it? And what better way to schmooze sponsors than to showcase hockey in such a grand, borderline romantic setting?

Manalysis: Mike Milbury is the NHL’s Matt Millen

January 7, 2009
Remember kids, not everyone who wears glasses is automatically smart.*

Rarest are the times when the planets align; when everything comes together in an angelic jambalaya of perfection. Hockey and football certainly have things in common: both are violent, look great in HD and employ large quantities of meat heads. That being said, it’s unusual to see a pairing more joined at the blundering hips than “Mad” Mike Milbury and “Fire” Matt Millen.

Allow me to elaborate …

Backgrounds marinated in likability

Giving Mike Milbury a tip of the hat for his playing days is the only sane thing to do. For christ sakes, the guy went into the stands … AND BEAT SOME JACKASS FAN WITH HIS OWN SHOE. Remember in grade school, when you forced your “friends” to play the “stop hitting yourself game”? This was the NC-17 version of that.

Seriously, does it get any manlier than taking off someone else’s shoe and beating the shit out of them with it? How does that guy look himself in the mirror? Imagine what it must be like for his buddies: do they tease him about it or is it such an emasculating experience that they just stay away?

That might be worse than trying to look your friend in the eye after sleeping with a 300 pound woman.

(Um, or so my cousin says.)

Millen, also a defensive player, did almost as well: he won four Super Bowls during a journeyman career. Almost as good as beating someone with their own shoe.

Tormenting fan base by making horrendous trades, idiotic signings and baffling draft moves (and sticking around as GM for an awkwardly long amount of time)

Mike Milbury spent an astonishing 11 years making the New York Islanders so atrocious that most young hockey fans forget that the team once won four straight Stanley Cups. Eleven years. It’s amazing what kind of damage an idiot person can do in that much time:

  • First trade essentially sent away Wade Redden for Bryan Berard and Martin Straka. Remember, this was “someday I’ll make $6.5 million” Redden not “a crazed Rangers fan might kill me someday” Redden. And they received post-eye injury Berard and non-Jagr enhanced Straka.
  • This is also the first guy to trade Roberto Luongo.
  • Traded away Darius Kasparitis for Bryan “meh” Smolinski. Kasper becomes a part of Penguins lore after concussing Eric Lindros.
  • Traded away pre-prime pre-neck breaking Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe for Trevor Linden. Oddly, Bertuzzi and McCabe are among the most openly mocked players in the NHL right now, but for a few years they were considered “stars.”
  • Drafts Rick Dipietro instead of Dany Heatley (although that did keep Heater away from dangerous New York traffic. Too soon … still?)
  • Trades Zdeno Chara for Alexei Yashin. Proceeds to sign Yashin to perhaps the most openly ridiculed contract in the NHL history (with the possible exception of Toronto signing that Finger guy who’s so irrelevant I forgot his first name). Chara develops into a $6 million D who was so hardcore he wanted to be awake during his shoulder surgery (!).
  • Oh, and guess what: the pick he traded to Ottawa turned into Jason Spezza. So essentially he traded away Chara and Spezza (core members of the Senators near-dominant teams) for franchise-killing pouty bitch overpaid center Yashin. Gadzooks.

That’s just astonishing. Millen certainly isn’t a slouch in the clusterfuck department, either. He drafted three WRs in the first round: one is basically out of the league, Roy Williams is a semi-bust and Calvin Johnson may never recover from slumming it up on a Millen-engineered 0-16 Lions team. Let’s not even dwell on Joey Harrington (that’s just cruel).

Is that the same photographer who had Brian Burke pose in the middle of an empty row? If not, someone might have a case for photo op infringement.

Shit, the guys almost share the same freaking name

Just switch it up: Matt Milbury and Mike Millen. If you read them real fast you might not even know there was a typo. This is getting creepy.

And of course, they pick up a TV job almost without missing a beat

The big debate regarding Millen is “how can you be credible when you clusterfucked a franchise into a 0-16 season” while everyone in Canada’s too busy booing American Junior players to care that some atrocious GM is on the intermission reports (kidding, they’re too busy eating flapjacks). Here they are – two of the worst decision makers their given sports have ever seen – already lapping up a nice TV contract.

And, you know what? Who cares. When you look at the parade of morons networks trot out for their shows (Terry Bradshaw … Keith Jones … DEION SANDERS?), maybe Millen and Milbury are the smartest in the room.

Sometimes it just comes down to Einstein’s theory of relativity – which after some skimming, contains no mention of shoe-based brutality.

*Question: did Milbury dramatically remove his glasses while making a draft pick or announcing a franchise crippling trade? Because if so, then forget that I ever criticized him.

Making lemonade out of Avery’s lemons

December 4, 2008


This Sean Avery story sure has legs, doesn’t it? Before this it seemed like the only time the NHL was the top story was if Todd Bertuzzi broke someone’s neck (although hockey being a lead story only when something bad happens still rings true).

On Wednesday, the Avery coverage just wrecked every other big story. It was:

  • The lead story on “Rome is Burning.”
  • No. 4 on ESPN’s insufferable “Around the Horn.”
  • The first topic during “Pardon the Interruption.” Among others …

Is it a slow sports day or is everyone just tired of talking about how much of a dumbass Plaxico Burress can be? (And where the hell does the name Plaxico come from? I guess I’d have a bad attitude too if my name was a combination of a plaque-killing mouthwash and Mexico)

ANYWAY, since this story is quickly getting beaten into the ground, why don’t we have some more fun with it? With that in mind, the NHL should take advantage of it’s rare moment in the sports spotlight. Here’s a few suggestions free of charge:

Sean Avery punching bags – All the satisfaction of slapping the taste out of Avery’s mouth without the momentum killing penalty minutes! Deluxe version includes simulated Avery whines and whimpers. Tears of pain and overpaid athlete blood not included.

All this punching bag needs is a designer shirt, molester mustache and a shit-eating grin.

A “Sloppy Seconds” Charity Dinner – With Thanksgiving only a week old, perhaps a hearty helping of the last remaining leftovers is in order. And if the NHL really wants to make Avery regret his comments, why not make the mainstream media’s favorite agitator the bus boy? Other recommended celebrity bus boys: Theo Fleury, Claude Lemieux and Barry Melrose.

Avery endorsed “hot water bottles”Because no one knows them better than the King of the Douches.

Dion Phaneuf made guest editor of GQFirst, Phaneuf steals his girl. Then he becomes the cover star of NHL 09. And the final insult: Phaneuf completes the “anything you can do I can do better” trifecta by trumping Avery’s scrawny Vogue internship by guest editing a superior magazine. Admit it, that would be awesome.

Gary Bettman starts his “hey, I’m not THAT bad, right? RIGHT?” tour of Canadian cities without NHL teams – The Napoleonic blunder should seize Avery’s “indefinite” suspension by going on a tour to polish his image. Sure, Bettman is to the NHL as George W is to the USA but … he’s not napalming cities, right? For every Joseph Stalin there’s an Adolf Hitler.

Apologies to Stalin’s mustache for that unfair Bettman comparison.

Even Hitch’s ‘stache cannot hang

Avery, Cuthbert, Phaneuf and secret guest Avery’s childhood baby sitter appear on Dr. Phil – Sure, Dr. Phil is a choad. But can you imagine his twang-heavy chiding of Avery for the sloppy seconds remark? And then a further examining of Avery’s alleged cross dressing youth? Gold, you miserable sons of bitches, gold!


Finally, I’d like to apologize for Benedict Arnold-ing the NHL 09 club. But, dammit, I’m impatient and it was hard to get all the ducks in a row. Anyone who joined the club/was thinking of joining the club is more than welcome to join me on the whacky new team I’ve on. Please, alleviate my guilt.


Bertuzzday: Whacky NHL commercials

December 2, 2008

As a continuation of last week’s Bertuzzday, let’s take a look at some of the most unintentionally hilarious commercials in hockey history (with a few, like Hockey Falls, that are probably intentional):

First, Hockey Falls:

The immortal Wooden Colby Armstrong/McLovin Talbot/stilted Gonchar/English-impaired Malkin car commercial:

“Charlie, come out here and get your whoopin'”

Hilariously awful Mario Lemieux commercial (thanks, Pensblog):

Pretty sure Rudy Kelly was the first to spot this ridiculous Kings commercial (Hard to believe this came out recently):

Call to Arms: there was a ridiculous Florida Panthers commercial where Olli Jokinen and others kept exchanging glances and nodding. It is absolutely absurd and awesome. If you know where to find it let me know. There might be more weird commercials soon.

Bertuzzday: The NHL’s dopey Heman advertising campaign

November 25, 2008

He imposes his will on his enemy, but he does not allow his enemy’s will to be imposed on him. He imposes his will on his enemy, but he does not allow his enemy’s will to be imposed on him. He imposes his will on his enemy, but he does not allow his enemy’s will to be imposed on him.

All lockout and no play makes NHL marketing a dull boy.

Coming out of the lockout, Gary Bettman and Co. were trying to re-establish or reignite hockey’s place in the sports world. During this process, the league left its unappreciative, abusive lover in ESPN for the sexually mundane but clingy Outdoor Life Network (which showed its undying love by changing its network name to the more sensible and less shit-kick-uous Versus). Thankfully, the league bounced back because it opened up the game in a variety of ways. The game sold itself.

And it had to, because christ almighty, those advertisements were Monster Energy Drink rejects. Somewhere Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer were waiting for royalty checks.

The scene starts off with a quote from The Art of War, following the time honored tradition of comparing a child’s game to war. Sure, getting a Chris Pronger elbow to the head hurts but most people would prefer an attack from Stompy over shrapnel to the throat.

The war analogy is weak, but the execution is even worse. The scene starts with homoerotic man boobage only to be followed by misogyny, when TUPH ACTOR HOCKEY PLAYER is too manly to put on his hockey equipment. Nope, he needs some random piece of ass to suit him up.

Then we see TAHP square off with Bland Hockey Opponent in NHL logo Gear.

BHOiNLG: “Nervous?”

TAHP: “This is going to be fun!”

Whoa-ho. Look out Gladiator. The NHL is coming to wreck your shit! Cue the sexy female narrator and get her the Lao Tzu lines! Now, dammit!

Perhaps the most hysterical part is the ending, when the puck streams iconic hockey images on both sides on its journey to the UBER COOL GAME WINNING GOAL. That definitely made the Fox exec behind the GloPuck cream his pants.

Instead of using a generic war movie orchestra score, the NHL should have just used Godsmack. It worked for the US Army, why can’t it work for a fake hockey army?

Over time the NHL’s gotten better at realizing that its fans (and potential fans) are no longer impressed by meathead commercials and that hockey’s niche sport status suggests a humorous approach. Over the last few years, they’ve hit their stride with very funny commercials (featuring Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin) and even came up with some solid cereal ones too (kinda dig this year’s “talking inside the photo/Zack Morris freeze-time inspired” spots, but the real champ is that sweet ass Stanley Cup montage). Those ad campaigns actually are a solid example of the NHL listening to its fans, even if the league’s hearing is rather selective *COUGH*Fire Gary Bettman *COUGH COUGH.*

Next week, we’ll take a look at the absurdly goofy and strange ads from past and present (here’s a hint, Max Talbot might make an appearance). I want to make sure I get as many of the best quirky NHL ads so please link any relevant ridiculous local commercials in the comments.

Until then, here’s four of the better NHL ads to come in recent times:

God, this Cup raising commercial is just amazing:

The key to marketing the NHL can be found at Ellis Island

November 8, 2008

In my mind, Alex Ovechkin should be the biggest star in the NHL … and I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. Simply put, the Russian superstar’s playing style seems like the exact thing that should grab the attention of that vaunted 18-35 demographic. Beyond scoring highlight reel goals, Alex O also headhunts like a uni-browed Troy Polamolu and bangs hot blondes like hot cakes. To get more American than that you need to snatch a damn apple pie off of a window sill.

Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, mainly passes the puck, lives in a middle aged man’s house and no one really knows if he ever sneaks busty coeds to his neat little basement nest. (This is the life of a man earning $8.5 million. Really?) And while Ovechkin hams it up for the press, Crosby’s about as secretive as the Bush administration.

So, what is it that makes Crosby more marketable?

His name. It’s easy to say and read. Two-syllables for his first name and two-syllables for his last. Rolls off the tongue. Joe Stain Shirt can read it and recognize him.

This brings me back to a simpler time in North America. When immigrants would flood the area known as Ellis Island, their bizarre European names would be changed to honest, hard working Joes, Johns and Adams. Sure, these practices reeked of xenophobia, but dammit … assimilation is progress!

Or so they’d say.

With that in mind, it got me to thinking: what if the NHL pulled an Ellis Island and re-named incoming Russians, other Europeans and the occasional Freedom Fry Frenchie? Let’s take a team-by-team look of what the league might do to make these consonant-heavy, multi-syllabic last names easier for honest, hard working ‘Mericans to read and recite.

After all, not everyone’s name can match the three syllable bliss of Erik Cole.

Anaheim Ducks

Teemu Selanne to Tommy Salami

Francois Beauchemin to Frank Bean.

Atlanta Thrashers

Ilya Kovalchuk to Eric Cooper

Kari Lehtonen to Carl Leto

Boston Bruins

Zdeno Chara to Zack Chara

Patrice Bergeron to Patrick Burger

Buffalo Sabres

Maxim Afinogenov to Max Alexander

Ales Kotalik to Al Cole

Calgary Flames

Jarome Iginla to Jeremy Eagles

Miikka Kiprusoff to Michael Crabtree

Chicago Blackhawks

Nikolai Khabibulin to Nick Wall

Johnathan Toews to Johnathan Taves

Colorado Avalanche

Milan Hedjuk to Miles Heder

Marek Svatos to Mark Smith

Columbus Blue Jackets

Pascal Leclaire to Paul Lee

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to Owen Toll

Dallas Stars

Fabian Brunnstrom to Fred Burns

Stephan Robidas to Steve Roberts

Detroit Red Wings

Valtteri Flippula to Val Phillips

Justin Abdelkader to Justin Adams

Edmonton Oilers

Lubomir Visnovsky to Larry Vale

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to J.D. Drew

Florida Panthers

Jay Bouwmeester to J. Bowman

Tomas Vokoun to Tommy Vacuum

Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar to Andrew Keith

Jason Labarbera to Bruce Barber

Minnesota Wild

Marian Gaborik to Mario Goodman

Stephane Veilleux to Steve Volume

Montreal Canadiens

Guillaume Latendresse
to Guy Trendy

Francis Bouillon to Franky Cube

Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne to Pecker Red

New Jersey Devils

Pierre-Luc Letoruneau-Leblond to Luke Perry

Jamie Langenbrunner to Jimbo Lang

New York Islanders

Kyle Okposo to Kyle Ox

Sean Bergenheim to Sean Bergen

New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist to Hank Loder

Nikolai Zherdev to Nick Zeus

Ottawa Senators

Daniel Alfredsson to Alf

Anton Volchenkov to Andrew Volt

Jason Spezza to Jason Pizza

Jesse Winchester to Jesse Gunn

Philadelphia Flyers

Antero Niittymaki to Arthur Nichols

Kimmo Timonen to Kimbo Thomas

Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin to Gene Martin

Ruslan Fedetenko to Tank Johnson

San Jose Sharks

Evgeni Nabokov to Geno Copper

Johnathan Cheechoo to John Train

Marc-Edouard Vlasic to Edward Plastic

St. Louis Blues

Paul Kariya to Paul Korea

Tampa Bay Lightning

Vincent Lecavalier
to Vinny Cavalier

Martin St. Louis to Martin St. Peter

Toronto Maple Leafs

Vesa Toskala to Vin Tacosalad

Vancouver Canucks

Roberto Luongo to Bob Long

Washington Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin
to Al Oven

See, that’s a lot of fun. Leave some good ones in the comments