Friday Funbag: It's not easy being an NHL PR person
The league and the top decision makers don't make it easy on those who have to actually handle the messaging.
Sorry for the brevity and late delivery this week. Was traveling this morning for a friend’s wedding, and like most best laid plans, things got delayed.
Anyway, here’s a quick three-question mailbag to make sure we keep our Friday cadence.
For the Friday Funbag I want to go deeper into a concept/idea that has been percolating in my brain.
And it percolated even further after this question.
Tiffany VilchisParks Do you think the NHL backs off it's ridiculous ban on specialty night apparel? They haven't punished anyone for defying them, so what's the point? It's not for PR, that's for sure.
First, to answer Tiffany’s question, I don’t think the NHL will ever fully rescind the ban on specialty night apparel.
After Marc-Andre Fleury defied the ban and wasn’t fined for wearing a specialty mask, and the league re-allowed pride tape, it created a precedent it couldn’t enforce in the first place.
But the league can stand strong on the no specialty warm-up jerseys or team-issued specialty items. It creates a space where the league can pretend to have a standard, and claim so to sponsors, while also allowing players to live in the grey area of the rules.
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Tiffany also mentioned the NHL and PR, and that’s where I wanted to go with this space today.
If NHL and team PR people were allowed to truly do their jobs, the league would have a much better public image. But because sports are big business and the NHL is filled with ex-players, many of whom have little to no PR training, the PR staffs are limited in how well they can actually communicate or put out some of the fires that arise.
Some organizations are better than others, there are some GMs who get it and allow the PR staff to do their jobs — this is the case in Dallas. There are also cases where the GM or team president are overly controlling of all messaging, and anything beyond a typical post-interview practice request is scrutinized by people above PR.
It creates an atmosphere where PR messaging is slow and clunky. Corporate heads have to approve of all messages, and the people who get stuck handling the mess — the team PR people — effectively have their hands tied in the situation.
This isn’t groundbreaking or newsworthy, but it’s just something that I’ve been thinking about. Especially with the recent Chicago Blackhawks termination of Corey Perry’s contract.
Anyways, let’s get back to some of your other questions.
Paul M on the Blue Line What is your take on the chances that Kane becomes a large asset on the ice for DET? Is he the first hockey player to come back strong after hip resurfacing?
I think Patrick Kane will be a fine addition, not a point-per-game type player, but I think he’ll score at close to .75 points per game.
For Detroit that is going to be huge.
The Red Wings have been a good defense-to-offense team, but don’t have a huge stable of traditional finishers. Even with a 5-1 win last night against the Chicago Blackhawks, they are a classic “tough to play, but will they score?” team each night.
Kane will finish and create chances, he will score, and the Red Wings will be better for it.
In my view, Kane is going to play his way into another decent-sized contract next summer, and either Detroit or another team will make the mistake of giving him too much money and term at that time.
For right now, for what Detroit has, this is a great fit hockey wise. Even if it fails, it hasn’t cost the Red Wings much.
Davis Dunkleberger Who would be the first prospect called up from Texas when the Stars need it?
He’s ready to play in the NHL, was just named the AHL player of the month, and honestly, could be the frontrunner right now for AHL MVP.
Logan Stankoven has been great this season, but Bourque’s all-around impact and legit it factor — the way he can play multiple roles and coaches love him — allow him to be more of an instant fit when he gets the call-up to Dallas.
Stankoven will need more of a form-fitting environment for early success, Bourque can break any mold and play in any role.
Defensively, it would have been Lian Bichsel, but with his return to the SHL it’s unlikely he’ll play in the NHL until at least next season.