Late 90’s NHL Marketing…Or Lack There of
It’s not like the Mike Modano retirement came out of left field, after a disappointing 2010-2011 injury plagued season with his home town Red Wings the writing was on the wall. And in really the last year or so in reflecting on his career I always come back to the same thing….man alive did the NHL ever miss the boat.
Modano was never the Art Ross trophy winner, but from 1998-2003 you can make a pretty compelling argument that this guy was the top player in the league….and there is no doubt in my mind he was the most marketable. In that time, the NHL didn’t have a face of the league. They had a lot of guys that were ALMOST the face of the league.
Yzerman was started to decline offensively (though still elite), Sakic didn’t have the personality, Gretzky retired in 99, goaltenders and defensemen aren’t very marketable, and any player that had the offensive flare at that time were European. It’s almost impossible to have a guy that has trouble speaking English the face of a North American league.
It’s nothing against guys like Jagr and Bure but it’s the truth. Modano was the guy, and they whiffed. American, played in a big US market, good looking guy, good personality, class guy, one of the most exciting players in the league, and played on a great team. Literally no flaw. How do you NOT make this guy the face of your league?! He was hockey’s version of David Beckham.
Becks in his prime was only among the best in the world, not the clear cut best. Yet the way he was marketed Beckham became the most well known European Football player on the planet. This should have been Modano.