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Friday Funbag: The Marketing of Bedard, broadcast thoughts, goalie depth
Happy Friday everyone.
It’s been a great week here at Shap Shots.
The NHL season actually started, we’ve had some fun and in the process the number of subscribers has gone up.
As of Friday this is the 57th most-popular sports-based substack on the platform. And based on my perusal of the list, the fourth most popular publication dedicated to hockey. That’s kind of cool, so thank you to everyone who has supported this adventure.
(If you are still on the fence, you can subscribe here.)
I think this week was also a pretty good sampling of what people can expect during the season.
We delivered on the staples and scheduled content, but also found other unique stories like the one about Daniel Sprong’s pink visor.
Occasionally I’ll leave a call for questions/comments about what you want to see in coverage. This is one of those times, let me know by commenting or responding to any of these emails. This is my publication, but as readers you are my collective editors.
With that, let’s get to your questions.
Jason We aren't even a week into the season and the marketing of Connor Bedard by the NHL is already ad nauseum (referee introduction to the NHL, the "Connor Bedard Season Tour," etc.). I know he's an exciting young player, but he's also still significantly unproven at this level. Is there a reason the NHL would rather hype up the unknown than focus on other 20-23 year old players that are becoming must-watch TV?
Jason also asked on Twitter that I share this image as supporting evidence.
So Jason isn’t going to like this answer, many people aren’t…. but I think it’s actually great for the league, even if the goal counter bit by TNT was ridiculous.
The league hasn’t had a marketing opportunity like this since Wayne Gretzky played for the New York Rangers. Bedard, while maybe unproven, is going to be one of the best players in the world within a couple seasons and he’s one of just three generational talents we’ve had enter the NHL since 2000 (Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby being the others).
He’s also playing in the third-largest media market in North America, and I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t hurt a sport to have hate watches. You may hate the hype, but you still tune in — it’s like the Yankees and baseball, you watch to see them lose.
The NHL does need to better market its other young stars, that’s a given. But Bedard is more than an exciting young player, and the league would actually be doing a disservice if it weren’t marketing him like they are now.
Tiffany VilchisParks I will be super annoying and ask why AHLTV is such poor quality again.
Not annoying, it’s a fair question.
AHL broadcasts have actually improved in recent years, if you can believe it. Since the league dumped its prior partner, which made it difficult to get any access, the AHL has made some strides to improve the overall product.
The real answer, however, is the lack of standardization for camera quality and placement across AHL venues. Individual AHL teams typically lose money on broadcasting, which is why things are kept to a shoe-string budget.
Even the teams that splurge the most, the Toronto Marlies, fail to see returns on viewership or ad buys to make full broadcast investment worthwhile.
NHL teams are also getting what they want from the AHL, because the AHLTV feed is just part of their footage. AHL teams typically have a video coach or someone else in the press box also filming the game, this additional film is enough to cover the needs of the team.
Like many things, this comes back to following the money.
Jim Vollmer Play a game - I tell you Mo Sieder takes the next step into Norris Contention and Franchise Defenseman status. You tell me what his season looks like in ‘23-24 make that true.
It starts with many of the cliche things. Consistency, more points, etc….
But to get more specific with this, Seider’s 2023-24 season in your scenario requires more overall dominance of the game. Seider controls stretches right now, and sometimes those stretches can last an entire night, but there are still lapses and breakdowns that need to be hammered out of his game.
I think Detroit’s season-opening game in New Jersey was a good first step for Seider this season. He and Jake Walman were great in my view, and he made a couple of those top-tier plays — the keep on the Alex DeBrincat goal — that remind you why he could be a future part of the Norris conversation.
Seider to me is already in the franchise defender category, as in he’s a player you’ll build a team around. But I’m not sure he’ll ever truly be in the Norris Trophy conversation and that’s because I look at his generation of players, and have a hard time seeing him ever being considered top-five in the world at his position.
Chad Barber Reposting this from a while back as you instructed. How do season ticket sales differ among NHL cities? Who has the highest and lowest percentage of individual season ticket holders vs corporate tickets? Which team offers the best deal (price or additional benefits) to their season seat holders?
So I don’t have the exact numbers or the best answer at this point. It’s something that Chad asked a while back and I want to give him something now, but truthfully this is a question I’ll have better answers on after we get a little bit further into the season and I travel/have more opportunities to talk to NHL execs.
There’s a good chart by the NHL Fan Index, which calculated the cost for a family of four to attend an NHL game. The study is from 2022 and the most expensive team on the index was the Toronto Maple Leafs ($698) all the way down to the Arizona Coyotes ($315).
Another good way to judge the strength of an NHL team’s season-ticket holder base is to look at preseason attendance. Since teams track tickets distributed, not necessarily bodies in the building, the attendance total for a preseason home game is reflective of the full season-ticket holders.
Chad, hopefully this helps for now, I do want to get you a better answer at some point.
Alexander Posani Something I was wondering about the other day- the Stars have simulcast the tv broadcast over the radio since Ralph and Razor. How many NHL teams have dedicated radio broadcast crews? Are there any that don’t travel with the team? I can’t imagine that a radio broadcast is terribly profitable in this day and age.
More teams are going the way the Stars have gone with the simulcast. The Los Angeles Kings recently did so, combining their TV and radio broadcasts into one.
NHL radio broadcasts also typically lose money. In fact, most NHL teams actually pay to get on terrestrial radio and it’s not the other way around.
Most still travel with the team, although this equation has changed since teams saw how much money they saved on broadcasts when broadcasters couldn’t travel because of COVID.
Dennis OBrien So what is your assessment of the Stars' goaltending depth. Poirier seems to be the preferred #3, which is kind of scary since he only has 17 AHL games under his belt. How would you approach their situation?
So the Stars and I disagree on the strength of their goaltending depth.
Jim Nill doesn’t like to leave things to chance, and the fact he didn’t sign a veteran No. 3 goalie is a strong indication that he believes Matt Murray and Remi Poirer are ready in case an injury happens to Scott Wedgewood or Jake Oettinger.
Now I like Poirer as a future backup to Oettinger, and he does appear to have the upper-hand at this moment over Murray. But at this point I’d be weary about going into a crucial stretch of games with him backing up Oettinger.
For Dallas the best plan right now is to hope that injuries don’t alter the NHL plan, and that Poirer continues to grow with starts down in the AHL.
A. Chepey Something I was thinking about today: Which ex-Stars players have been more successful with their new teams? (Maybe, say, within the last 5-10yrs to put a cap on it)
The obvious one is Valeri Nichushkin with the Colorado Avalanche, that’s the high-water mark for ex-Stars finding new heights with another team.
In recent years, the Stars have done a good job, in my view, of knowing when it was time to move on from a player.