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SBD/10/Leagues Governing Bodies
CANADIANS DEALING WITH THE "AMERICANIZATION" OF THE NHL
Published April 10, 1995
In a two-part series in the TORONTO STAR, Randy Starkman examines the "Americanization" and marketing of the NHL from a Canadian perspective. In Part I, Starkman questions what Americans will do with Canada's pastime. In the Sun Belt, for example, "Americans haven't just embraced the game of hockey; they've taken control." According to Starkman, "the biggest potential force for change has just arrived on the scene": U.S. network TV. Panthers President Bill Torrey: "It's like the pendulum has swung too far. We're never satisfied. On one hand, we couldn't understand why the game wasn't nationwide in the States. Now that it has a chance to be that, we want to pull it back and we don't want it to grow" (TORONTO STAR, 4/8). Part II looks at the NHL's marketing and what it is doing for the game. Citing the increase in TV exposure and attempts to make the game more fan-friendly, Flyers GM Bobby Clarke is "concerned about the influence being exerted by marketing and TV types and the amount of clout they could wield in the future. Starkman also cites the emergence of in-line skating as a large factor popularizing hockey in the U.S. But, most league execs argue that the "Americanization" should be accepted. Torrey: "It's like when your own children grow up. Sooner or later, they're going to go away on their own. You've got to let this thing go" (TORONTO STAR, 4/9). FROM "TRUTH & RUMORS": In Toronto, William Houston speculates that Atlanta and Denver will receive NHL expansion teams in a league vote this summer. Ted Turner's TBS would own the Atlanta franchise and Nuggets owner Comsat the Denver franchise (Toronto GLOBE AND MAIL, 4/10).