SBD/15/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing


     With its labor troubles put to rest, the NHL has returned
its focus to building on the success of the '93-94 season and
establishing a stronger fan base.  In addition to selling the
game, a key element of the league's strategy appears to be the
marketing of its young stars.  And as THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY
found in an exclusive survey, the field is wide open to find the
heir to Wayne Gretzky -- a star that not only dominates the
sport, but transcends it.     "YOUNG AND FRESH" FACES:
Bernadette Mansur, NHL VP of Corporate Communications, said that
in talking to NHL marketing partners and sponsors, the league is
hearing that "one of the strengths of this league is the fact
that we have many young players that represent the teamwork of
this game. ... Sponsors have come to us and want people who are
young and fresh -- people who are new to the scene."  Our panel
of 25 top sports industry professionals with a knowledge of
hockey was asked for its short list of young players to keep an
eye on -- vehicles for the league and sponsors to sell the game
and its products.  The question: "With the exception of Wayne
Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who are the top, young, marketable
athletes in the NHL?"   Our panel included members of the media,
top agents and others in athlete management, and officials of
sponsor companies and equipment manufacturers.  THE TOP TEN:
     1.  Pavel Bure, Vancouver Canucks
     2.  Eric Lindros, Philadelphia Flyers
     3.  Paul Kariya, Anaheim Mighty Ducks (rookie)
tie- 4.  Sergei Fedorov, Detroit Red Wings
         Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins
         Jeremy Roenick, Chicago Blackhawks
tie- 5.  Adam Graves, New York Rangers
         Brian Leetch, New York Rangers
tie- 6.  Teemu Selanne, Winnipeg Jets
              Radek Bonk, Ottawa Senators
     PAVEL BURE:  The 23-year old Russian was mentioned by 17 of
the 25 surveyed and was the top choice of five.  Bure, a right-
wing who has been selected to play in two All-Star games in his
three years in the NHL, gained great exposure during last year's
Stanley Cup Final.  Peter Davis, Dir of Promotions/PR at Canstar
Sports, said Bure's "playing style is from another planet.  He
has brought a lot of talent to the game."  One hurdle in Bure's
marketability is his difficulty with the English language.
Veteran hockey writer Red Fisher of the Montreal GAZETTE said
Bure is "good looking but has a problem with the language."  Bure
has recently been the focus of trade talks and wants to play in a
large U.S. city, preferably New York -- which could increase his
drawing power dramatically.
     ERIC LINDROS:  The Flyers' 6'4" center has been tapped by
many in the industry to assume the mantle as league superstar
after Wayne Gretzky retires.  The No. 1 entry draft pick in '91,
Lindros was mentioned by 13 of the respondents, and picked No. 1
by five.  One agent called Lindros a "marketing volcano just
waiting to erupt."  Kevin Paul Dupont, hockey writer for the
BOSTON GLOBE, believes Lindros is "finally poised to be THE
player of the '90's."    PAUL KARIYA:  In what may be the biggest
surprise of the survey, the Anaheim rookie was selected by nine
of the industry's leaders, with four votes for No. 1.  Steve
Dryden, Editor-in-Chief of THE HOCKEY NEWS, said Kariya "is one
to watch.  He is something special.  He is going to be elite for
years to come.  He is bright, intellectual, a perfect
spokesperson, he is a natural."  The relationship between the
Mighty Ducks and the Disney organization is also seen as a big
plus for the young rookie.  As the GLOBE's Dupont says, "Disney
built him.  The following will come."
     INTERNATIONAL FACTOR:  Although some believe the NHL faces a
challenge in selling its foreign players, David Grant, Management
Supervisor at Clarion Performance Properties, disagrees noting
that the new TV contract with Fox will help the NHL market its
foreign stars.  Grant:  "You can bet that when Fox and the NHL
look at what games to air, they are going to be looking at where
the players are popular.  If Bure is the big guy, you can bet
Vancouver is going to find themselves on network TV."  Mansur
also cited the "global outreach" that comes with the foreign
players as a positive:  "We are an international game."
     REGIONAL STARS:  As Ron Cohen at Herman's Sporting Goods
notes, NHL stars historically have had strong appeal on a
regional basis.  The three players tied at No. 4 are good
examples, and their fate as national icons could be a bellwether
for the league's overall performance.  The Penguins' JAROMIR
JAGR, the 22-year old Czech, was seen as "rock n' roll on ice,"
according to one agent.  Melanie Hicks, Marketing Coordinator for
Karhu, a hockey equipment maker, believes Jagr could step forward
with teammate Mario Lemieux out for the season.  The Red Wings'
SERGEI FEDOROV is a hit in the big, fan-friendly market in
Detroit.  David Shoalts of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL called him "a
flashy player, and number one in Detroit."  The DETROIT FREE
PRESS' Cynthia Lambert calls Fedorov an "untapped resource."  The
Blackhawks' JEREMY ROENICK "has it all" according to one
management exec, "He just needs a better team."
     OTHERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:  Karhu's Hicks said "this could be
the year" for the Jets' TEEMU SELANNE, although playing in small-
market Winnipeg is seen as a disadvantage.  Ottawa's RADEK BONK
was mentioned by the GLOBE's Dupont: "He has the hair.  He has
the name."  The Bruins' CAM NEELY, recently signed by Nike, was
only mentioned by one respondent.  That did not surprise Mansur
who said the Cam Neely story isn't about the "superstar hockey
player, it is about the superior athlete."  As Clarion's Grant
notes, "Nike does things a little differently."
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