Sunday, February 01, 2009

Time to bring the pizazz back to Detroit

So this has been on my mind for awhile, but really was chipped into my head this weekend. The Red Wings are old. Ironic considering I just watched three Grand Rapids call ups play and score in the Wings versus Capitals game this weekend, which Medium and other friends joined me in D.C. for. The Caps won 4-2, and they won thanks to three goals from two electrifying young players, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. Now when I call the Wings old, I don't mean the players, I mean the organization, the owners, the mindset.

I write this tonight (during a really boring Super bowl) to hopefully better my beloved Wings. I think it is time to take a fresh look at how the team markets and sells its product to the fans. Detroit and Michigan is mired in a horrid economic downturn and people claim this is why the Joe is empty even during the Stanley Cup finals. I think with a different look at how you display the greatest team in the world to the fans, some of that can change. The perfect example of how to market a hockey team? The Washington Capitals.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I saw a first in my life. A token female "Crowd Pleaser." This is the girl they have roaming the crowd during stoppage of play, giving away gifts and food on the big screen with trivia and random drawings. These crowd pleasers are designed to draw people to a game with more of a chance to win bonus value from their presence. The Red Wings are a part of the NHL's vanguard. One of the original six, second most ever in cups, the best player ever, the best captain ever, the best defensemen ever. Gimmicks don't fly here. No dancers, no crowd pleasers please.

Most teams have this type of roamer now, I get this, The Caps have it too. What the Capitals do that the Wings don't however, is market their stars. Alex O is all over D.C. Buses, buildings, tattoos. Yzerman was once on a building, but what now? The Capitals make you feel as if their young stars are superheros. What happens after a goal? The crowd is witness to an animated hero of their player on the big screen. AO scores, and the "Russian Machine" takes the jumbo; Mike Green, he becomes the Incredible Hulk; Backstrom morphs into Thor. Real life heroes marketed as fictional heroes, the crowd loves it, it builds the persona.

The team tries its damnedest to make you connect and love the players on a personal level as well. Copying down to the on screen graphics and camera style, is the "Caps Cribs" intermission show. The young players show off their homes, cars and an abundant amount of personality.

These are simple things, but they have a point. They build emotion, they build a connection beyond the stat sheet and overly boring post game interviews. The Red Wings may feel that simply by being the Wings, they should be loved and admired, and the true red and white do, lord knows I do. Why not build off of that base though? How much do we really know about Pavel, Lids, or Z? Happy Huds is hilarious when we get any kind of a look at him. Surely there must be ways to make our Detroit heroes seem bigger than just players, something more than just athletes, something that Detroit can embrace maybe just a margin more than they do now.

This may never change while Mike the pizza man owns the team, and I love the way he runs it, but I wish he would take a little inspiration from one of the youngest, fastest, and most animated teams in the league, and market our team, stars and history with a little more pizazz then a glorified puck bunny giving away free hair cuts.