Outspoken Octagon Sports agent Allan Walsh believes the National Hockey League has always failed to properly market its players, so he's encouraging his clients to lead the NHL's social-networking movement.
"What the NHL has never really understood and will never understand is what the fans want is to interact with the players," said Mr. Walsh in James Mirtle's Saturday story. "The league's philosophy over the years has always been: Fans buy tickets to see the team, to cheer for their team and that they're more concerned about the logo than the name and the number on the back on the sweater. But as many times as they say it, it's not going to make it true.
"What really drives numbers, attendance, TV ratings, are the personalities."
NHL players might be far behind the massive Twitter popularity of stars in the big three U.S. sports such as basketball's Shaquille O'Neal and football's Reggie Bush, but Mr. Walsh said there has been positive impact. His client Martin Havlat's tweets during the Chicago Blackhawks' playoff run last spring had his jerseys flying off the shelves.
"Hockey is sadly lacking in terms of showcasing a guy like Alex Ovechkin," Mr. Walsh said. "I believe that the philosophy comes from the league down … there still is resistance in many quarters to putting the players out there. But Twitter is dragging teams against their will into this new realm where they are going to be forced to put players and their personalities and stories out there."
Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET, return to this page for a live discussion with Mr. Walsh on social networking's potential as a marketing tool for his NHL clients.
If you would like to leave a question for Mr. Walsh in advance, please use the Comments area on this page.
Mr. Walsh was born in Montreal. His passion for hockey carried him to the Canadian college ranks where, in 1987, he graduated with honours from McGill University. He earned a degree in law from Southwestern University School of Law and was appointed to the position of Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County.
In 1995, he co-founded Can-Am Sports Management Group, a hockey representation firm with offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, Calgary, Slovakia and Czech Republic. In October 2004, he merged his hockey practice with Octagon. His clients include some of the top stars in the NHL today including Martin Havlat, Marc-Andre Fleury, Patrik Elias, Miroslav Satan, Scott Hartnell, Petr Sykora, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Milan Michalek, David Perron, Derick Brassard and Michael Frolik.
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