P. Diddy: It's an interesting concept you've hinted at: That there are very few players in the current NHL that you could acquire and then market to a general sports fan as a gate attraction. Look at the Atlanta Thrashers: They have a legit star in Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), but what does that mean for a general sports fan in Atlanta? Is he Ovechkin to them, or just a guy with a funny name?Panthers Dude: That's a good example, right? That one superstar, arguably one of the top 10 players in the League. And the market doesn't know who he is, or they're not marketing him properly.
Obviously, this is something that puzzles us all. Atlanta has one of the greatest and most exciting hockey players in the world playing right here, but very few people in the area know his name. WHY?
To me, the answer is stupid-simple. Kovalchuk won't be popular in Atlanta until hockey is popular in Atlanta. Hockey won't be popular in Atlanta until the Thrashers put together a good season and hopefully a good post-season. I really have a hard time believing that people aren't interested simply because he's a Russian with a--horror of horrors--Russian name. The professional football leagues in Europe are full of players from all over the place, most of whom don't play in their home countries. No one cares, as long as they're good. Obviously, the English prefer English soccer heroes, the French get excited about French stars, etc. But no FC Barcelona fan is going to ignore Thierry Henry or Lionel Messi because they're French and Argentine, respectively, instead of Spanish.
The reason for this? People there are football-crazy, and Henry and Messi are good football players.
So, to me, it really is as simple as that. Kovalchuk will be popular when the Thrashers are popular, and that will happen only, and I do mean only, when they get on a roll. Which, we're finding out, is possible.
The Thrashers marketing department is still terrible though. Marketing department...is that right? Is there such thing as a "Thrashers marketing department?" Or do they use some ad agency staffed entirely by fifth-graders? Need to get the Short-Handed Mole on it.
Anyway, WHAT DO YOU THINK?