Monday, October 15, 2007

From the Locker Room to the Sofa

The NHL has made a lot of changes over the past few years, some of them more ridiculous than others. Among the more positive changes, however, is a concerted effort to make the game and the players more accessible. As most of you know, in conjunction with launching a league-wide template for team websites, every team now also has an NHL TV channel that is free to the public and provides assorted videos – everything from postgame interviews and highlights to TV spots, player profiles and in game features.

It sounds like a small thing and to fans of the game it’s obviously secondary to the goals, hits, and saves, but there’s something about seeing the personalities behind the sport that makes it even more entertaining and, more importantly, more appealing to the casual fan. For those of us still without NHL Network (anytime you’re ready, RCN) the veritable online feast of highlights, interviews and behind the scenes clips provides welcome relief from a hockeyless Sunday afternoon.

Most teams have about the same amount of coverage as the next, with a handful of videos across various areas like “Interviews” and “Features”. But as is always the case, some were better than others…

- New York Islanders: “Islanders TV” is packed to the gills with 35 pages of insider videos dating back to the 2005-06 season, including a huge number of video blogs from players at training camp and other assorted goodies.

That's a lot of Islanders. And a lot of hair on Ricky D.

- Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers kicked off the season with a long western conference road swing and took the opportunity to document it not only on a road trip blog on their website but also through multiple video clips. Highlights include extensive footage of team-building exercises in Whistler during a break in the schedule.

- San Jose Sharks: San Jose has always been really good at reaching out to their fan base and providing as much coverage as possible, as anyone who has seen an episode of Shark Bytes can attest to. They’ve stepped it up a bit more with their Sharks TV contributions and continue to provide some great stuff – if nothing else, “20 Questions with…” is always good for a laugh.

Kyle McLaren on the hot seat for 20 questions
- New York Rangers: They have nothing. Literally. Guess they figured being the self-appointed world’s greatest hockey town precludes them from having to post anything at all.

- Colorado Avalanche: Their “exclusive insider coverage” is limited to 2 videos, both on milestones from last season. This is a franchise with a couple of Cups, Hall of Famers, new faces and great young talent, but none of it is being showcased here.

- Two from the Isles - Jon Sim mic’d up during preseason vs Thrashers and joking around with some of his old Atlanta teammates during the game like Kovalchuk and Hedberg, and Bill Guerin delivering suite tickets to one of the sponsors

- “Cooking with the Hawks” segment that displays Jim Vandermeer’s cooking talents and his roommate Brent Seabrook’s lack thereof.

- The St. Louis Blues “Whatever It Takes” commercials featuring players and others from the Blues organization trying to woo fans…literally. Borderline creepy, but Doug Weight with a bouquet of flowers in his hands is worth watching anyday.

Dougie's such a softie...
- Henrik Zetterberg taking a face full of shaving cream on his birthday.

- Thrashers’ Fake Vacations are pretty funny, although they do feature some of the world’s worst photoshopping efforts.

- A number of teams are in anniversary years and have taken the opportunity to commemorate the occasion with highlights and archival footage. Check out Carolina, Nashville, Vancouver and the NY Islanders for a trip down memory lane.

- Some of the cheesiest commercials from…well, you name the team. Chicago’s are pretty bad. Phoenix’s crazy Pierre the Fanatic Hockey Snowman is surreal (and confusing – how did a snowman get to the desert?) And coming from the organization that once brought you the classic “Always Intense” campaign, the Caps’ tattoo commercial is nothing short of a disaster.

Why isn't he melting?
- The color schemes on some of these are enough to burn your retinas. Flyers’ orange and Kings’ purple are bad enough without being the dominant colors.

There's a familiar face!
- Tryouts for various teams’ ice girls, filmed, edited and posted online. Why is that necessary?

And then there was this, which is really neither a highlight nor a lowlight – it’s really just a ‘huh???’ kind of moment. Technology at it's finest, ladies and gentlemen.

Frankly I think the Caps kind of missed the boat on this one, at least to begin with. The Snapshots are fantastic and it's nice having postgame interviews up, but it would be nice to have a few more archived pieces up there to choose from. What about footage of Ovechkin's goals? How about something commemorating Olie's 250th win? Maybe even the opening videos that have been shown from year to year would be nice. Just a thought...


Cruel Britannia said...

The Pens have figured out that people want to see opening videos, so we've got some of those. I think there's even a "Pens go to West Point" image gallery up, if nothing else. And let's not forget "Inside Penguins Hockey" which gives you gems like Army doing impressions of half the team and talking about wearing bright green shoelaces.

(Oh, and hand delivering season tickets? And auctioning off a chance to sit in the penalty box during warmups?)

My only beef is that a lot fo the stuff the Pens are doing is rich-person specific. There've been reports that the crowd is BIG but not as active/enthusiastic as previous years, as they've cut the Student Rush program down to 200 seats per game.... but hey, that's what they get.

Old people don't scream, jump, and do the Cotton Eyed Joe dance wearing their favorite sweater, they pay their money and sit like lumps.

CapsChick said...

Yeah, I checked out the Pens - I actually looked at all 30 teams because I am just that cool. Anyways, they fall somewhere in the middle, which is why I didn't spotlight them either way. Plus I didn't wanna. :P

The rich-person specific thing is one we're familiar with here in DC, too. The majority of the lower bowl tends to be filled with lobbyists and people in corporate seats, which just doesn't make for as fun an environment. Luckily the upper bowl continues to be relatively inexpensive and much more fun.

Steph said...

Okay I just sat through fifteen minutes of what was effectively Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk getting their pictures taken eight billion times with some scratchy audio that you really couldn't hear.

And it was all worth it for the last like fifteen seconds which involved Pavel getting a ride on this TINY little indoor Gator-looking thing chanting "let's go Red Wings!"