Have you ever seen a kid at Christmas or do you remember when you were a kid at Christmas? Well, I got a neat reminder when I was at the Flames practice this morning. I guess you could say the Capitals' practice this morning when my boy and his two best friends were patiently waiting for the Capitals to come onto the ice. Well, they were just waiting for one player in particular Mr. Alexander Ovechkin; he is suppose to be pretty good. Well, according to the boys, he is the best player. They seem to think he is the best thing since sliced bread. (Those are my words; they used slang words like cool dude, and other description that are to hip for me.)
I wonder sometimes if the NHL knows how to market their players? After the practice, they blocked off the Capitals bus from the fans. The NHL has to realize that these fans are here to see Ovechkin, he could have at least acknowledged the fans by tipping his head or something. I mean, I saw a lot of people with big posters, including a boy near my son's age. I think it was really disappointing that they blocked the fans off from getting his autograph. The NHL has to sell these players and blocking them off is not the right way to do it. I am talking about 25 fans were there at the Capitals bus. I don’t think it would have hurt for him to at least say hello to the fans.
I can understand him not signing autographs, but he could have at least said hello to the fans. This league has to really step it up when they have a opportunity, even in the hot beds of hockey. I think they spend too much time trying to get new hockey fans that they forget about the ones they already have. I really felt bad for the kid who was waiting there for AO to sign his poster. I just do not understand why they could not sign his poster.
So back to practice. Ovechkin was a monster in the practice. He has release like no other. I have no idea how a goalie can even stop it. My son and his friends completely had their eyes on Ovechkin every time he shot the puck, or telling me where he was on the ice. The Capitals look very good. Theodore looks very good in net. He seems more relaxed this year.
The drills were very interesting. I like the passing drills the coach did, doing short passes all the way down the ice. We of course left as soon Ovechkin left the ice. The boys were not so interested in the drills as they were in Mr. Ovechkin (I actually am trying to say his name as much as I can in this blog).
Well I said what happened on the Capitals' side. You want to know what happened on the Flames' side after the practice? The boys got to meet Todd Bertuzzi, who was very gracious in stopping his truck and sitting and visiting with the boys. He was just terrific with them. Todd looks like a brand new person, totally relaxed in the practice. Iggy still looks like he is very tense. I think he might be feeling the pressure of the slow start. Yet Iggy also stopped to sign some shirts for the kids. He never stops on game day, but he chose to stop today.
Marketing is a tricky part of the game in the NHL. The Flames players bend over backwards, yet the Washington players get blocked off. Even though the Flames are struggling, they still know who there fans are. Its too bad the NHL has not figured that out yet. I do not mean to be harping on this, but it really was quite sad looking at the disappointment on that child. I don't know if it was because they were the visiting team. I'm not sure what the reasoning was. If it was the NHL or the Caps themselves, shame on you NHL for letting it happen.
The NHL has to remember its fans. I wanted to give you a positive story in the Flames, mostly Todd Bertuzzi, and a negative story. I wanted to tell you the effect, could have been monstrous for the kids we had if they had not gone to the Flames first. The league must do more for its fans, especially the ones who cannot afford to go to the games; most of the times they are the real fans. It is not by choice that most hockey fans don't go to the game, it's probably because they cannot afford it. So they go to the practices. It may be the only way they can see their team up close.
I love this game, but more importantly, I love the players that go with it. I just hope the league realizes its fans who cannot go to the games matter just as much as the ones who can.