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Friday, August 14, 2009

Story of the Week: Tampa Uses Twitter to Break News

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At 2:44 PM on Thursday, August 13, the Tampa Bay Lightning took a huge step forward on how NHL teams will be measured on how they use Twitter.

The Lightning’s Twitter team posted (AKA Tweeted) this message: “The Lightning are making a trade today. They'll be getting a player and a draft pick in return. More to come....”

It wasn’t from an anonymous hockey blogger, a fan or even one of their beat writers. It came directly from the team. Instantly, everyone who was flowing them on Twitter knew that Tampa was making a trade. And instantly, followers wanted more info. No doubt, page hits dramatically increased for Tampa’s website.

At 3:31 PM that same day, the Lightning finally broke the news of their trade with this Tweet: “The Lightning have acquired LW Drew Miller and a 3rd rd pick in 2010 from Anaheim in exchange for Evgeny Artyukhin.”

Not the biggest trade in the hockey world. In fact, the impact of his trade might be felt more off the ice and then on it by the way the message was delivered.

At this point, I believe 29 of the 30 NHL teams use Twitter. Until yesterday, the 29 teams used Twitter mostly to deliver promotional/marketing news and website updates. Some teams used Twitter to update their draft board at the draft, but that news was also available on countless other websites and Twitter accounts.

The Lightning not only broke the news of the trade, they teased it to everyone.

It was an excellent way for Tampa to drum up interest in a trade that would hardly make headlines in the middle August. It also increased websites hits and the amount of followers they have on Twitter.

Today, people are talking about the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring Drew Miller and a 3rd round draft pick not because Drew Miller is the next Wayne Gretzky, but because Drew Miller will become the answer to a trivia question on a potential historic moment for the NHL and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sad to See AFL Go

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AFL spokesman: Demise appears 'inevitable'

I got my start in the sports industry with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. I saw it as a way to work my way up to a position with the Islanders and for me it worked. Along my journey with the AFL, I made many friends and memories along with way.

The AFL had something good going, but in my estimation their failure was their own fault.

The NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA took decades to grow into the national and continent-wide powerhouses they are now. The AFL wanted to do that in 20 years. They wanted to rush their growth and the league thought of themselves as equals to the big-four North American leagues.

It seemed that when Kurt Warner jumped from the AFL to NFL Super Bowl MVP that the Arena League gained respect. At that moment, the League and its football operations department started to think of themselves as equals to the giant of the National Football League. And from that moment they began to throw away their milk before it spoiled.

Instead of continuing to embrace their small-market success, they jumped ahead of the curve to try to find big-market success. Along the way they gained some notoriety, but in the end bite off more then they could chew. They forgot about what they had in exchange for trying to find something more popular.

The moral of the AFL’s story is that growth takes times. The NFL did not become the NFL overnight and the fall downward comes a lot faster then the climb.

The NHL can learn from the AFL’s failure. There is still plenty of growth ahead for the NHL and they mustn’t rush it. Let success happen and if it takes time, so be it. Rushing to success often leads to failure in the end.

And while we think of the AFL’s demise, ask the Arena League how ESPN helped them? Even ESPN doesn’t bring automatic success.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thoughts on NYI PB and CB

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As I told him in a private e-mail on Wednesday, Chris Botta taught me almost everything I know about PR. He didn’t have to take a chance on a 21-year old kid when filling out his post-lockout PR staff, but he did and I owe him more then I can probably ever repay him and if for nothing else then for the memories I made in my time with the team.

It’s sad to see Islanders Point Blank leaving in its current form. As an employee of the team, it was a great place to check out what Chris wrote about because 1) It was an opinion of a fan who cares very much about the team and 2) It was an opinion of someone who I deeply respect. And as a fan after my time with the team, well, those same reasons apply.

I hope one day I can work with Chris again because he is a great person to work with and I’m sure there is more I can learn from him. As fans of his blog, we learned a lot too. And not just about the team, because if you read close enough, you could really get a huge insight on how and why hockey teams make the decisions they do.

To me, Islanders Point Blank wasn’t just about the news that was broken, but how it captured the hockey spirit.

There’s more I can talk about, but those thoughts will have to remain between the two of us. Best of luck to Chris in his next step.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Found on Twitter: Miro to Return to LI?

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From NHL agent Allan Walsh (@Walsha) on Twitter: "" I can confirm we are currently in negotiations with the NYI on a contract for Miro Satan. ""

That confirms the Islanders are looking for another scoring winger. While I love Miro, this might not be the best on-ice fit. Miro has had his strugles the past few years, although he did have a solid playoffs.

What I'm leery about is that Miro would in essence be coming home to finish his career. His family loves Long Island and I believe his still owns the house he built while on the Island. He and his family only moved into it in the final year of his contract.

To quote Ted Nolan, Miro is a pro's pro and one of the finest gentleman in the NHL. He was one of the nicest and easiest guys to work with in my time with the Islanders.

It would be interesting if this comes through. It could mean one of the young kids would have to come out of the projected top-12 line-up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Which Islanders Would You Like to Tweet on Twiiter?

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The Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin does it. Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban does it too.

Patrik Elias, The New York Rangers, Martin Havlat, Kelly Hrudey, Beat Writers (example of two: Tarik El-Bashir, Anthony SanFilippo) and even Stan Fischler use Twitter.

Countless teams across the four major North American sports league do it.

From my estimates, the Washington Capitals do it best in the sporting-sphere. Aside from Ovechkin, they have three members of their PR staff Tweeting individually about the Caps, they also have a Twitter account for their media staff as a whole. That’s separate from their website’s Twitter account. And both their two major beat writers Tweet too. Maybe it’s borderline excessive, but if you’re a Caps fan, you can get all of the Twitter updates you can handle. Oh, Ted Leonsis -- The Caps’ owner -- Tweets as well.

To my knowledge, the Islanders are not currently on Twitter. There was a brief experiment with Bruno Gervais and Brendan Witt in 2007-08, but it was short lived.

So, which Islanders would you follow on Twitter?

I personally would love to read Garth Snow’s quick wit, but I doubt he would be up for it (but I would loved to be proved wrong!)

More realistically, I wouldn’t mind seeing team president Chris Dey Tweet about the plethora of off-ice activities of the team. Maybe John Tavares can bring us through the trials and tribulations of his rookie season. 

It would be cool to get a scout to Tweet through his journeys, but that would result in a breach of competitive edge. Understandable.

If I realized what a great outreach tool Twitter was last season, I would have tried to Tweet the team’s travel experiences (editor’s note: I was responsible for the on-site travel coordination of the Islanders last season).

Twitter can be tied into a team’s website, beefing up the quantity and timeliness of news updates. The Thrashers have their website coordinator Ben Wright not only take care of their website and write a blog, but quickly throw updates about the team and the website on his Twitter account.

A lot of teams are using their website departments to promote their website through Twitter. It’s easy to see when they Tweet about a new story on their website or to add extra content. And providing extra editorial content is becoming increasingly important as team’s website are becoming more of a marketing tool as oppose to a means to provide editorial content. Which is in their right.

So back to the original premise, which Islanders would you like to start using Twitter and how would you like the team to use it?

Comment Below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Airline Miles on Chartered Flights

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After the Islanders flew commercial in the 1999-00 season, the NHL made it a rule that teams must fly charter. I heard the Zdeno Chara story of trying to switch into the emergency row seats to stretch his legs more then once. In fact, the Islanders were one of the tallest teams in NHL history that year. Not a good time to scrunch on Southwest.

Ontheforecheck.com put together some pretty interesting information on how many approximate miles each team in the NHL will travel this year, how many back-to-back sets of game they’ll have and compared both to 2008-09.

According to the website, the Islanders will travel approximately 31,550 miles this season, which will be about 3,424 additional miles from last year. It’s unclear whether they include the miles they’ll spend on the bus driving to New York City, Newark and Philadelphia or from Anaheim to LA in March. Those miles are always a little harder on the joints.

Chartered flights can get cozy, but when you’re spending that much time in the air and hardly ever getting home before 2 AM, it becomes more daunting.

But don’t get me wrong, some of the best memories I have from working with the Islanders was flying on that plane and I’ll miss the camaraderie that went along with it. On one of our many flights last season, broadcaster Howie Rose told me try a Pizza joint in the Great Neck (where he used to live and where I currently live). Coincidently, I did tonight and it was great.

Travel can be extremely tough in the NHL as the season goes on, but it’s also a lot of fun with the right people and the right attitude.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NBC Good for NHL, But…

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NHL, NBC extension

It’s really good for the NHL to have a presence on NBC. Period.

Sports as a whole are slowly going away from broadcast TV stations and moving on to cable. Cable shouldn’t give you the same bad vibe as it would 10 years ago. Every day, more people are watching brand new, highly rated shows on cable TV.

But that said, anytime you can be on broadcast TV, it’s better. Broadcast TV offers up a more broad audience. The hit cable TV shows Jon and Kate Plus Eight and Cake Boss work great on TCL, but wouldn’t on NBC or CBS.

I think some of the negative vibes the NHL on NBC gets is because the Peacock ignores hockey. Running promos during golf, bull riding and poker events are one thing, but I think we can count on one hand how times a player or team official appeared on Today (NBC’s morning show), one of the Late Night shows, or even one of their hit TV shows (I know, insert joke here).

I know… There have been some NHL appearances on NBC’s Monday through Friday shows, but not enough to make a significant impact.

I’m glad to see NBC and the NHL have agreed to two more years. But let’s see if NBC can boost the cross-promotional tools that are at their disposal. That will really help ratings and be great for the NHL.

Giving the Devil Its Due

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For years the New Jersey Devils were critized by thier fans, the media and other teams in the NHL when "fans" weren't one or two on their priotiy list. "Win at any cost" was one through ten.

And with three Stanley Cups in nine years, you really couldn't blame them. But even as a perrenial powerhouse and winner, fans didn't flock to the Devils because of it.

But over the last few years, that has changed.

Under the leadership of Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek, the Devils have become a more fan-friendly operation. The Prudential Center is a great arena, one which is continuously improving. It's also a great place to watch a hockey game from on-ice action to entertainment in the stands.

I was perusing their website today and I found this article. In case you didn't make the jump to the article, it was about two of their prospects getting into a fight at their prospect camp. Sometime when this happens, teams will try to act like it didn't happen -- especially if it happened without the media present (I don't know if that was or was not the case with the Devils fight today).

But the article on their website is an example that a franchise who once seemed isolated with thier fan base is becoming much more transparent with them. And if the Devils can combine winning the Stanley Cup with being fan-friendly, then they'll become a real ellite team in the NHL.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Early Predicitions Are In via ESPN

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ESPN.com's (and also of the Denver Post) Terry Frei put together some early Eastern Conference predictions for the 2009-10 NHL season.

He ranked the Islanders at 14 (of 15) in the East. As I'm sure you remember, most publications had the Islanders in dead last last season. The ones that did not, didn't have them higher then 13. I can't find Terry's predictions for last season in his ESPN archieves.

I personally think it's still way early in the summer to offer predicitions. Terry's Western Conference picks were posted a week ago on July 7. Team's are still biulding thier roster via trades and free agent signings, so I'm interested to see if there will be a revised list later in the off-season -- say, maybe September.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What You Learn on Twitter

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Again, Twitter is an amazing tool for diseminating information.

I follow NHL supper agent Allan Walsh, who represents former Islander Miroslav Satan. This is what Mr. Walsh Tweeted 8:45 PM EST:

""" Just received word that client Miro Satan and wife had a beautiful baby girl a few hours ago. Mother and baby Victoria doing well. """