What Is Your Favorite NHL Playoff Memory?

April 27, 2010 by Tyler  
Filed under Hockey Columns

NHL History Will be Made CommercialFor any hockey fan, the playoffs are a special time of year. The games suddenly have more meaning and you can see rivalries develop quickly over the course of four or more games. The weather is nicer outside, the days are getting longer and teams battle with each other every second night for their chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup.

Playoff hockey has given us the most exciting moments in hockey history and some of our best memories as hockey fans. This season, the NHL has offered up a series of History Will Be Made commercials that are promoting this season of playoff hockey.

The commercials are simply constructed and feature some of the most memorable moments in NHL playoff history. What has been even more exciting to watch over the course of the release of these commercial spots is the growing list of fan parody videos that have been posted to YouTube and other Video sharing sites, featuring other memorable moments in NHL playoff history.

Why Simple Can be Good

One of the best things that could have happened for the NHL is for their set of videos to have them “Go Viral”. or be shared, among hockey fans across the globe. But, making the videos simple enough for fans to create their own parody versions is even better. Now, the NHL will benefit from the content produced by fans to promote the game in addition to the exposure of the original videos. Could it have turned out better? Probably not.

Sure, the fan parody videos aren’t exactly featuring the content that the league would prefer to see, but most of the parody videos identify important moments for fans. And, that’s the key. Hockey is live. There are going to be faux pas, referees are going to blow calls, players will make mistakes… that is the nature of game. Fans recognize that the game is not perfect and that sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned, but we still love the sport. The game can survive and thrive even though it is not perfect and, perhaps, because it is not perfect.

What Defines Playoff Hockey For You?

What is the moment that most defines the NHL playoffs for you? Was it a heroic performance by your favorite player? A game winning goal by an unlikely hero? Or, was it glaring mistake or a moment riddled with controversy? (Was Brett Hull’s foot in the crease?)

Whatever the case, it is important to recognize that for the game to be the emotional rollercoaster that excites fans, there are going to be a variety of memorable playoff moments – certainly not all of them perfect.

Laraque’s Blog Gets Knocked Out By Canadiens Brass

January 9, 2009 by Tyler  
Filed under Hockey Columns

The following is the first article submitted to NHL Digest by columnist Kyle Roussel.  You are encouraged to catch up with Kyle at www.twitter.com/kyleroussel. Enjoy!

Wow. Words cannot express how disappointed I am in the Montreal Canadiens. First, I should mention that I am a die hard fan of the team. They’re an inseparable part of my life. That said, they’ve clearly screwed up this time.

Generally speaking, there is no team in pro sports that carries itself with more class and dignity than the Habs. Just look at any retirement ceremony, or any event where they honor players from the past. It’s pure class. Other teams probably take notes on how to properly commemorate an occasion. Of course, nobody’s perfect. The Habs waited too long to retire Hall of Famer Boom-Boom Geoffrion’s jersey. He passed away the day of the ceremony. Poor Larry Robinson’s parents both passed on before they got to see what they should have seen 15 years ago. Those are 2 black marks on what is otherwise a virtually spotless record.

But this past Tuesday, I think they’ve really blown it, and it was SO simple to avoid. All they had to do was let things be.

Habs enforcer Georges Laracque has been blogging with Sportsnet.ca since December ’08. Well, make that HAD been blogging. After only 2 entries, someone in the Canadiens hierarchy told him to end his apparent rogue activity.

Check out Georges’ opening statement in his last blog:

“Before starting this blog, I just want to let everyone know that this will be my last one. It’s unfortunate but it is a team rule that Canadiens players are not allowed to do blogs simply because of the many requests our team gets and it would be unfair to all the other people asking us for similar projects. As you can imagine, when you’re a French-Canadian playing in Montréal you get a lot of requests so I agree with the team’s decision because this makes it fair for everyone.”

Did they command you to say that Georges? C’mon, you can admit it. Get on Twitter and let us know the real deal! Or are you not allowed to do that either? If Shaq can do it, why shouldn’t you be allowed? Oh that’s right. Because the Canadiens don’t get it. At least not when it comes to the new world of marketing and PR. Which is crazy, because there are some great social media marketers in Montreal that can probably help them out.

It’s no secret: blogging, and other forms of social media bring organizations and fans/customers closer together. Georges, as brief as it was, had a thoughtful blog on the go. He was earning respect with his mind and words instead of his fists. Hell, he’s an enforcer blogging about the validity about fighting in hockey. How transparent is that?

So what exactly are the Canadiens afraid of? Can it be something so infantile and childish and corporate as they’re worried that he will say something “unauthorized”? Like a rogue customer support agent letting slip on his own blog that his company’s software doesn’t quite do all the things it says it does? Are they afraid that since it’s not hosted on their website, they can’t control the message, so they just simply deny permission? Sounds rather anti-cluetrain, doesn’t it? Does their fear creep closer to ice level? Are they afraid he would give opponents bulletin-board material? The Canadiens reasoning is among the lamest and most pitiful excuses I’ve ever heard. It’s the parent telling the child to stop what they’re doing simply because they can.

How on earth, in this day and age, can a reputable organization like the Canadiens be so blind? Or so stupid?

Let’s go back to Georges’ opening statement:

it’s unfortunate but it is a team rule that Canadiens players are not allowed to do blogs simply because of the many requests our team gets and it would be unfair to all the other people asking us for similar projects.”

That’s sort of like saying that since you can’t please everyone, don’t bother trying. Does that make any sense at all? Seriously, I’m asking the question. Does that make any sense? Putting it all together, you’ve got a player who is publishing thoughtful stuff, promoting discussion on the game of hockey and driving interest. “Sorry, please shut it down. You’re not allowed because then we have to say yes to everyone else’s request, for everyone else’s time no matter what they want your time for.” Huh? It’s a blog! Done on his own time! It contributes so much and costs so little.

There is an insatiable appetite for Habs hockey in Montreal. It cannot be quenched. Why put the lid on something that was providing value at no cost to the team? The Canadiens are missing a unique opportunity to further build their own brand and buzz by allowing one of their more intelligent and (surprisingly) well spoken “employees” to connect with fans. If they think they’re a bulletproof brand, they’re sadly mistaken. Habs management must have been shocked at the poor attendance when the Canadiens had terrible teams through the late 90′s and early 2000′s, considering every home game prior to that was a sellout.

What kind of damage are the Canadiens doing to themselves? Well, for starters, they’re putting a sour taste in an opinionated player’s mouth. Will he have nice things to say about the Canadiens to his free agent friends? Maybe, maybe not. They’re making fools of themselves in public by showing how woefully behind the times they are.

Can you think of other ways in which they’re hurting themselves by imposing this restriction on Laracque? In the end, 21,273 fans will still be at Canadiens home games, and a million other people will tune in on tv, radio and online, so what do I know?

I hope that enough sports and marketing people are as upset about this as I am and that enough criticism finds it’s way back to Donald Beauchamp’s inbox (he’s the Habs head of PR). I’m hoping that they reverse their decision, and instead of a lame compromise of starting a filtered blog on canadiens.com, they instead allow Laracque to resume his blogging on sportsnet.ca.

So….are you as ticked off as I am about this? Can you see a reasonable angle that prompts the Habs to do this? How can we as hockey fans and social media nuts change this?