In true spirit of Twitter, and social media promotion, the NHL has taken to promoting the new, shortened season, with the hashtag and theme of #Hockeyisback, or Hockey is back. It’s latest promotional video has spread through the hockey community like wildfire. Where yes, it is slick and evokes a lot of emotions, I still have a problem (like many others) with the whole hockey is back theme.
You see, hockey never left and the whole hashtag is a bit insulting to other leagues in North America. In north America you had the AHL, ECHL, CHL SPHL and other minor pro leagues that played since September/October time frame, but with what NHL is saying is that those leagues are, well, a bit insignificant and don’t classify as hockey. This is not to mention the whole of Europe, where leagues started in September. You had Finnish, Swedish, German, Swiss, Russian and Czech professional leagues starting their seasons, so in many ways, the only thing that is back is the NHL.
Where yes, I do agree that the NHL is the best hockey league there is, but to assume that it is the be all and end all of hockey is a little bit misguided. The thing is, if the NHL had fallen because of the work dispute, the game of hockey would not have died or gone away. Yes, it is great to have the NHL back, but the whole “Hockey is back” slogan is a little bit arrogant from a league that lost 113 days to one of the most pointless work stoppages in the history of professional sports.
The NHL is in a position where many economists have scrutinised its brand value and given estimates of half a billion dollars lost in brand value, which has left the NHL’s marketing department to do its best to bring fans back. Where many teams are doing various promos to entice fans to come back to watch hockey, for the league to say that hockey is back is bullish and to a lot of disgruntled fans it is yet another slap in the face.
Where yes, I am excited about the NHL being back, I’m not supportive of the statement that hockey is back. Despite my excitement, I think it would be divine justice if the NHL season would open up to empty arenas across the league, but I doubt that it will happen. Despite how disgruntled the fans were during the lockout, many of them will be back.