Sarah Palin drops the puck at Friday's Blues-Kings game. (Photo by Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
In an effort to prove lowbrow political stumping in the NHL can’t be limited to Ed Snider and the Philadelphia Flyers, Blues owner Dave Checketts allowed a divisive political figure to again use the sport for her own public relations purposes Friday night.
I’ve said most of what I needed to say on the subject before; all of it certainly now applies to Checketts and his hockey team, which has been needlessly sullied – and most likely, in support of a cause that seems to be headed directly for the dumper.
I will say this: it appears as if this particular candidate has been bad luck to whomever she’s visited.
First, it was the Flyers, who lost six straight after Snider’s tawdry political stunt; now, it’s poor Blues goalie Manny Legace, who suffered the Curse of the Cute One when he tripped over the red carpet that had been set out for her pre-game puck-drop. Legace described the injury as a strained left hip flexor.
In other words, the Hockey Gods have spoken and they’re not impressed.
Say something nice about the Blues’ PR disaster, you say? Fine: at least they had the courage of their convictions and didn’t do something completely gutless like turn up the volume on the public address system to drown out any catcalls, the way Snider’s Flyers did.
• For an example of how to properly put on a politically-themed promotion, look at what the American League’s Manchester Monarchs did Friday. (The Milwaukee Admirals will mirror this promotion Oct. 31 and the Grand Rapids Griffins Nov. 1.)
Allowing fans to choose between the two presidential candidates through bobblehead figurines is an even-handed proposition that doesn’t needlessly alienate any segment of the paying audience.
That’s something Snider and Checketts should consider before they team up to produce a “Nixon Was Misunderstood!” collector’s coin marking the 35th anniversary of the Watergate scandal next summer.
• An interesting development from the business side of the sport came with news the NHL Players’ Association chose to raise the percentage of salaries that go into escrow to 13.5 percent this season.
NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly made the move to address the economic uncertainty facing virtually every business on the planet; deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sports Business Journal the league was prepared to accept a lower escrow rate, but after hearing the union’s rationale, chose to accept Kelly’s offer.
Granted, the news doesn’t mean much to the average hockey fan who cares only about the games themselves. But I think it’s important, because it demonstrates not only how pro-active the union has become under Kelly, but also how much more difficult it will be for pro-owner forces to paint the players as greedy the next time labor negotiations come around.
Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog normally appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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