NHL Getting Its Mojo Back

After years of hiding in the shadows of the rival NBA, the NHL is making its way back into the ratings and into Hollywood’s spotlight. Since the Red Wings clinched the finals, the Stanley Cup has made a trip down the red carpet and has appeared on several popular television shows including “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Since the notorious lockout season, there have been many questions surrounding the lack of marketing and publicity for the NHL. Ratings had dipped to historic lows while some national sports commentators grew apathetic to the league and its stars, until this years dream finals match-up between the Red Wings and Penguins.

The rating numbers reported by NBC for the prime time finals indicate the NHL is on the way back and the league has wisely used that momentum to kick their marketing and publicity into high gear. Since the Red Wings returned home with the Cup and completed their photo day, they have gained an onslaught of attention from the national media; publicity has soared.

Players like Chris Osgood and Nicklas Lidstrom are helping to make this happen. Still battered and recuperating from a long season, they accepted the invitation to fly to L.A. for scheduled guest appearances with the Stanley Cup when the call came in from PR director John Hahn.

After their “Sexy Back” dance performance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” we shouldn’t expect Osgood and Lidstrom to make it to “Dancing With the Stars,” but their representing the NHL and Red Wings that night in front of millions of coast-to-coast viewers is exposure the league desperately needs.

While on the same West Coast trip, Osgood and Stanley were again in the spotlight joining some of Hollywood’s stars including Mike Myers, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba and Verne Troyer for a walk down the red carpet at the opening premiere for the hockey-related comedy “The Love Guru.”

Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Myers grew up an avid Maple Leaf fan and getting exposure from the Austin Power’s star can help the NHL “get its mojo back.” In addition to Myers, Hollywood has a long list of celebrities who love the game including producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, Armageddon, Pirates of the Caribbean) and Verne Troyer who portrayed Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies to name a few.

The NHL should take their relationship with Hollywood to the next level and continue to include these stars in their marketing plan. These stars have helped promote other leagues like the NFL and NBA and there is a lot to gain by inviting them to functions put on by the league.

Every year there are stories about the trips the Stanley Cup makes throughout the summer. Tales are about the far away countries visited or the occasional strip club stop. Those journeys do get attention, but that exposure is minimal compared to the exposure that will be gained by this year’s and any future Hollywood trips.

The NBA promotes their relationships with celebrity fans including Jack Nicholson and Ashton Kutcher. If the NHL continues to promote Hollywood with their sport, who might we see sitting on the glass in next year’s Stanley Cup playoffs?

Born and raised in Detroit and currently residing in Atlanta, Tom Ferda is a freelance sports writer who covers the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB. Before writing for his favorite pastime, sports, Tom originally got his start creating and selling spec scripts in the film/television industry while operating a production company based out of Universal Studios Florida.

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