SBD/January 31, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

The Kid Is Alright: Jeff Skinner's Popularity On Display During All-Star Weekend

Fans line up to get Jeff Skinner's autograph before SuperSkills competition
Hurricanes C Jeff Skinner took the NHL All-Star Weekend in Raleigh "by storm," as the 18-year-old "teen idol with wavy hair and a boyish smile" became the youngest player in league history to play in the All-Star Game, according to John Manasso of FS SOUTH. Skinner appeared at an autograph signing Friday night at the NHL Fan Fair, and Hurricanes Senior Dir of Marketing Doug Warf "estimated that the line might have exceeded some of those lines" following the team's '06 Stanley Cup victory. Warf said, "We've had a lot of young, talented players in the last years when you look at guys like Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter playing at a young age, but (Skinner) definitely kind of appeals to that kind of teenage-girl mentality." Warf noted that when Skinner was "named to the SuperSkills squad, it printed T-shirt jerseys with the player's name and No. 53." Warf: "We knew his (jersey) was going to sell well because people are passionate about him right now, but he was 4-to-1 over Staal and [Hurricanes G Cam] Ward, so he almost doubled their T-shirt jersey sales in the first day. And it's not that those guys aren't popular; those guys are still immensely popular. But it just shows in basically four months how far things have come for the kid" (FOXSPORTSSOUTH.com, 1/30). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen wrote Skinner is "climbing to stardom." His popularity is so high that Canadiens D P.K. Subban "borrowed his jersey for a breakaway opportunity in one of the skills competition," drawing a "favorable response from the crowd." Staal said, "He seems to be the Justin Bieber of the area, especially this weekend" (USATODAY.com, 1/30). In Ottawa, Wayne Scanlan writes under the header, "Skinner's Baby Face Has Star Appeal." Scanlan: "Jeff Skinner was the MVP of all-star weekend, by anyone's vote. Moms want to adopt the 18-year-old Hurricanes forward, teenage girls want to bring him home" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/31).

CONNECTING WITH THE YOUNGER GENERATION: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes Skinner is a "local pop star." He has "tapped into the younger generation the NHL had been seeking when it expanded and allowed teams such as the Hartford Whalers to migrate south." The NHL has a "way of grabbing hold, and teenage stars like the speedy Skinner are players with whom the younger generation can identify" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/31).
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