Right now the hockey world is all about the Vancouver Olympics. With the world’s best players facing off against one another, there’s nothing else to care about besides the teams that are fighting for medals. Play has been suspended in the National Hockey League to accommodate all the players who are pulling on sweaters for their countries.
So what is the NHL to do during the Games?
Well, it’s time to promote the best the sport has to offer, of course.
The NHL Web site is currently devoted to the Olympics, and the league created Destination: Vancouver, a blog covering hockey at the Games. Fans can easily check out the tournament bracket, and you can follow exactly what your favorite players have been up to one the ice.
NHL Teams Take Advantage
Individual teams in the league are also cashing in on the big event. The Pittsburgh Penguins have Team USA defenseman Brooks Orpik writing blog entries, and the Vancouver Canucks posted a behind-the-scenes article about the team’s equipment manager because he’s also in charge of equipment for Team Canada. The New York Rangers caught Team USA forward Chris Drury on camera for an Olympic chat, and several other teams have people reporting back with video updates for their fans.
A Gold Medal Off the Ice
But the gold goes to the Chicago Blackhawks when it comes to using the Olympics to connect with fans on a different level. Since Rocky Wirtz took control of the Hawks and entrusted John McDonough as team president a few years ago, Chicago’s team has been the NHL leader in reaching out to fans.
One of the team’s greatest strengths is giving fans the chance to see the players in videos posted online. The guys are frequently filmed goofing off on the road, pulling pranks on one another and chirping at each other in the locker room. As a hockey fan, it makes me feel like the Hawks are the same nice, normal guys you can find on a team at your local rink. As a PR student, I realize that making players accessible to the fans is a sure-fire way to create lifetime supporters.
The Hawks Olympic coverage includes live fan chats with Olympic players, a video chat with Team USA forward Patrick Kane’s parents about their thoughts on the Games, and a special USA vs Canada viewing party for fans at ESPN Zone in Chicago. All of those were great ways to tie the team to the Olympics, but the Hawks sealed the gold with a series of videos covering their own Mini-Olympics, which included speedskating and popsicle-eating contests. When a team can convince their stars to pull stunts like that, you know the players must absolutely love being a part of the organization. And who wouldn’t want to be a fan of a team like that?