As we see many “niche” brands from the AFL to NLL struggle with the economy and being able to justify brand spends, the NHL has gone the opposite way and seems to be doing all the right things to build marketshare, buzz and connect with fans on a national and international level. Now in no way is the NHL a niche..it remains one of the five largest sports brands in North America and arguably in the world, and it should stand for all things hockey. However as recently as a few years ago, many were questioning hockey's plans and marketability. Although not totally restored, the league took the smart approach by embracing the digital space, connecting with brands who appealed to their core audience and could effectively activate and creating a key event (The Winter Classic) which broadcasters, partners and the casual and ardent fan could connect with. Put on top of that the aggressive outreach of select teams to recapture their market and commissioner Gary Bettman's work to be more accessable with the media and fans, and the result is an NHL brand which is firm and growing and can now concentrate on being all things hockey, much like the NBA is pushing to be all things basketball. A good summary of the brand resurgence was done by Media Post. In this economy the NHL smartly has been able to retool and look to the future of the sport, and as a result will be in a much better position with partners and fans when the economy overall starts its regrowth.
Some other good reads…John Feinstein in the Washington Post has a great piece on The Palestra, and its value to college hoops…Jerry Crowe in the LA Times has a good look back at boxing legends Carlos Palomino and Armando Muniz…ESPN.com has a good piece on how the University of North Carolina produces such a great lineage of college hoops…and the New York Times has a look at the struggles of women's cycling to gain recognition.