Campbell's Cuts: Marketing makeover

Ken Campbell
The Hockey News

Campbell's Cuts: Marketing makeover

Ken Campbell

Some early-week random thoughts:

Wednesday in New York, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and the NHL's marketing team will be meeting with a number of high-profile agents to discuss its strategy on how to market the league's star players.

“They maintain they are creating a new direction,” said one agent who will take part in the two-hour meeting. “The players will not be hidden anymore. They'll be front and center.”

It's about time.

For too long, the NHL has been loathe to promote its solo talents, instead trying to sell the league as a triumph of a team concept. But with emerging and engaging talents such as Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the league clearly sees an opportunity to do something it failed to do when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were at the height of their dazzling skills.

During the NHL's dead-puck era, I had an NHL executive actually tell me the following: “People talk about entertainment value. If you want to be entertained, go to a movie.”

It looks as though the NHL has finally realized that was exactly what people were doing and seems intent on doing something about it.

STAND BY YOUR MAN: TSN has announced that it plans to stand by its newest acquisition in Tie Domi, despite a very public break-up with his wife that continues to get uglier by the day.

“Our plan has not changed and we look forward to Tie Domi's debut Oct. 3 on TSN,” the network said in a statement Monday.

That's about the only thing that has gone right for Domi lately, whose tryst with Liberal Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach has become daily fodder for the news media and gossip-mongers alike.

This has to be killing Domi for one reason. Virtually everything he did during his 16-year career was to cultivate a favorable public image, one that he thought would serve him well during his retirement years.

But just a week into his official retirement, all that has crumbled for Domi and everything he did to build up his goodwill is deteriorating before his eyes. And now that the unseemly stories are out there, it looks very much like we haven't seen the last of Domi's dirty laundry.

This certainly won't do anything for Stronach's political career either.

THE RETURN OF THE KING?: It will be interesting to see where former NHL coach Dave King ends up this season after being fired by Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia earlier this week.

NHL teams that get off to slow starts, particularly those with defensive shortcomings, will undoubtedly be interested in hiring him this season.

King has long carried the reputation as a defensive zealot whose idea of beautiful hockey is a 0-0 tie with nobody watching. There is little doubt that he has earned the reputation by being a suffocating defensive coach over the years.

But to be fair to King, perhaps that perception – one that I had until I looked up the numbers - isn't entirely fair. King coached the Calgary Flames from 1992-93 through 1994-95 and in those three seasons, his teams scored 787 goals, which was fourth in the NHL behind only the Quebec Nordiques, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.

This item started out as a rant against King, claiming that he represents everything the new NHL is trying to discourage, but you can't argue with the numbers. Let's face it, anyone who can coax 88- and 93-point seasons out of career underachiever and all-round great guy Robert Reichel must be doing something right. Theo Fleury had a career-high 100 points playing for King in 1992-93 and defenseman Gary Suter finished with 81 points that season.

If King ever returns to the best league in the world, he will have to embrace the new NHL and apply his coaching skills to making offense happen rather than stifling it. If he fails to do that, he does so at his own peril.

Ken Campbell's Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at

One of THN's senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken's expertise delivered to you every issue.


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Campbell's Cuts: Marketing makeover