Puck Daddy - NHL

The NHL sent over its two latest 2010 Stanley Cup playoff "History Will Be Made" commercials, and this has to be some kind of cruel joke. Not only do they subject this New Jersey Devils fan to the sight of Mark Messier's bald, beaming mug hoisting the Chalice for the New York Rangers in the "guarantee/Matteau Matteau" year of 1994 ... 

... they also provide a clip of Raymond Bourque raising the Cup as a proud mercenary member of the Colorado Avalanche, defeating the Devils in 2001.

(Oh, and to answer the commercial's question: If Messier didn't lift an entire city, the Rangers would have simply kept buying up old Oilers until they found someone who could.)

Bitter Devils fan recollections aside, these ads do well to capture the "you have to witness history" aspect of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as the unbridled emotion that comes with actually raising the Cup at the end of that war of attrition.

I've been thinking about how the NHL should sell the Stanley Cup playoffs recently, and started considering the dreaded casual fan.

Remember after the Olympics, when there was so much debate about whether the "Olympic Hockey Fans" would stick around to watch the NHL regular season? I've been toying with the notion that the NHL should sell the Stanley Cup playoffs as a different animal than, rather than an extension of, the regular season. That you literally have people/actors/mascots/whomever stare into the camera and say: "I'm not a hockey fan, but I'm a Stanley Cup playoffs fan."

In the same sense that Olympic hockey fans may not be NHL fans. Or that World Cup soccer fans aren't necessarily MLS fans. Can that mindset only work with events that come around once every few years? Could the NHL convince a casual fan to become a Stanley Cup fan, even if they aren't watching Columbus and St. Louis on Versus in November? Would it even be worth potentially damaging your product from a marketing perspective to try it?

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