Yesterday, Shane Doan conducted a phone interview with Pierre LeBrun of ESPN NHL division. Shane is not going Europe or the KHL to play during the lockout. His family is his first priority, so he was around and will to talk to Pierre. At the top of the interview, you get frustration from Shane. He was told the sale would be happening, so he re-signed with Phoenix to remain a Coyote for life. He is the only one from the player side to have that moniker. So when he was asked about the lockout and the lack of progress on the sale to Mr. Greg Jamison, Shane replied
“You just try to cross each bridge when you get to them,” Doan told ESPN.com Thursday. “I know that’s kind of cheesy but that’s what it is. You hope both situations get done soon.”
Greg Jamison is waiting for the City of Glendale to stop making changes to the lease agreement that he and his team agreed upon. The City of Glendale is not going to tender the agreement until after the election and the Proposition 457 is voted down (VOTE NO ON 457 PEOPLE!). The NHL owners won’t approve a new CBA until their costs are reduced, including a change to revenue sharing and being the backstop to the Coyotes financial losses. Once the election happens, City of Glendale will sign the lease agreement. Mr. Jamison gets the money from Glendale, buys the team from the NHL. NHL sells the team and the other owners are not paying the losses. All that remains is the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be worked out so hockey can start.
Gary Bettman and Bill Daly have worked for the last three years to keep the team here in Phoenix. They supplied General Manager Don Maloney with a budget he turned into a winning team and playoff team three years in a row. What was lacking was the off-ice component. The “Hockey The Hard Way” advertising campaign was not well received at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. The initial commercials made it “hard” to be a Coyote fan. The ads reiterated all the negative media statements about the team. The electronic billboards had images and graphics that were unreadable. The color scheme did not work.
Part of the difficulty with the marketing of the Coyotes is you have an unwilling and hostile television and print media that should be partnering with you. Unfortunately, you have tv anchors rooting for the team to fail and move back to Canada. The print media was not allocating proper resources to the Coyotes. As the Coyotes kept winning, a scant paragraph was devoted to the team. The Cardinals, in another losing season, would get two pages. The Suns would get 45 seconds of valuable television time through the 10pm news telecast. The Coyotes would usually get the graphic of the logo and two sentences. And the Suns were in the middle of a horrible losing season while the Coyotes were winning the Pacific Division for the first time in league history.
The second difficulty is the lack of funds for an effective and proper advertising campaign. Being in a non-traditional market means the team has to do things differently than you would in Minnesota, Philadelphia, or Toronto. Shane noticed this and commented as such.
“People may think this sounds naive, but I really do believe it can work here,” he said on the phone from Phoenix. “And I know people don’t believe that. But in the last three years, [the NHL, which is operating the team, has] done absolutely nothing outside of running hockey ops.”
A locally owned team, by someone who knows how to build a successful team in a non-hockey market, would think outside the box when it comes to marketing the team. Ideas like
- Players deliver signed jerseys to season ticket holders as a thank you for your financial commitment. Capture the fans’ reactions as the players knocks on their door and put it on the Coyotes website.
- Youth hockey day. Work with the local rinks to promote their product during a Coyote game. Example-Saturday Nov 3rd is Mite Knight. The Phoenix Coyotes welcome the Mites from Polar Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria, and the Ice Den. Scroll their names on the videoboard during intermission. Conduct two Mite on Ice games per intermission. Repeat it monthly with the other divisions.
- Enlist current season ticket holders to recruit and promote the game as was done by the Ambassador Club a few years ago. Make it a contest, as was done, and give prizes to those who help the team sell the most tickets.
- Corporate dollars must flow to the team. Go after those who have Suns luxury boxes and don’t have a presence for the Coyotes. This is where Mr. Jamison will shine. Use the resources on the team to make your sales pitch.
- Realize print media is dead, the AZCentral.com website is not friendly territory, and go out and make new media friends. Channel 3 and channel 10 have over four hours of time to fill each morning. Put together video packages for them for twice weekly airings.
- Reach out to the over 55 age communities with bus trips to watch a game. Many are transplanted Canadians or Midwesterners who do not drive after the sun goes down. Make it easy for them to spend money at Jobing.com
- Partner with sites like this and Five For Howling. Extend a media pass. Make a player available for interviews. We love the game and this team. W will give you favorable and honest reviews.
As I continually say, you cannot invest financially until you can invest emotionally. And you cannot fully emotionally invest until you know your heart will not be broken. And you cannot know your heart won’t be broken until the team is sold to Mr. Jamison. Shane knows this as well.
“We’ve had zero ability to build off what we’ve done on the ice the last three years because every summer it’s the same: ‘Are we leaving? Are we staying?’” said Doan. “And this time we make it to the conference finals and we generate real excitement and then we get the lockout and we’re talking about staying or leaving again.”
How great would it be to see billboards and television advertisements that announced “The Coyotes Are Here To Stay” or “YOUR Arizona Coyotes” or just have it behind us? Concentrate on the game, going to the game, rooting for Derek Morris to drill a winger on the backcheck.
“If the ownership was in a stable situation, I believe that we wouldn’t be one of the bottom revenue teams, I believe that we’d be in the middle of the pack and we’d be fine,” said Doan. “But being the way it is right now, you understand. I just wouldn’t want to give up on this city without giving us a real shot of having a stable owner and having the ability to make things work here. Because I do think it would work, as much as people may chuckle at that.”
Shane was one of the representatives present when the NHLPA made their three counterproposal to the owners. A 50/50 revenue share, just like what the owners wanted. And all three offers were rejected without serious consideration. What effect did that have on the players, who are collectively giving up millions of dollars that was offered and agreed upon under their current contracts?
“I was glad I was in the room. It was important. I wanted to be there, it was interesting to see how it went and how it works,” said Doan. “And in that particular moment we had agreed to come down to 50-50. That was a fairly large concession by the players. From watching when Gary walked out and said, ‘They took a step backwards.’ That galvanized the players.”