SBJ/April 23 - 29, 2007/This Weeks News

NHL teams to mirror Canes’ revamped Web site

The Carolina Hurricanes’ new Web site offers the first glimpse of what NHL team sites will look like in the future.

The league’s other 29 teams will adopt similar
sites before the start of next season.

Packed with sleek navigation bars, rotating lead stories and bold red links, the new site is the culmination of a year-long effort by team and league webmasters to develop a uniform look for team sites. The league’s 29 other teams will adopt similar sites before the start of next season.

The Internet has become increasingly important to the NHL, which has done studies showing it has one of the most tech-savvy fan bases in sports. Though it has struggled to gain traction on TV since the 2004-05 lockout, it has enhanced its new media efforts by redeveloping NHL.com and striking content-sharing deals with YouTube and Google.

The Hurricanes’ site provides more evidence that the new team sites will further strengthen the league’s new media efforts. The home page rolled out by Carolina emphasizes large news stories, video content and ticket sales, which are the first option on the site’s navigation bar. Plus, by having one template, it will be easier for teams to share best Web practices.

While the site design will remain the same from team to team, content will vary and be determined by individual teams. The Canes’ site offers an in-depth section that connects visitors to team weblogs, video and news clips. That will allow each club to retain a local voice and allow each site to reflect the club’s focus, said Keith Ritter, president of NHL Interactive CyberEnterprises.

“The way the league explained it is, ‘We’re going to build a house and the clubs are going to have to paint it,’” said Ben Aycock, the Hurricanes’ manager of creative services. “It’s not the extreme extent of complete league control but something between that and being totally on your own like we were up to three weeks ago.”

The Hurricanes’ move to the new site took two months. The team designed most of the graphics for the site, which were dropped into a template designed by the league.

Aycock said the new site offers more space for the team’s corporate partners with small advertising slots open beside the headlines of each box. There’s ad inventory on the page for league partners, as well.

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