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Did the NHL make a marketing error with 1 of the 6 Division names?

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01-18-2013, 01:08 PM
  #1
MoreOrr
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Did the NHL make a marketing error with 1 of the 6 Division names?

Seriously, did the NHL make a marketing error when naming one of the 6 Divisions? I think so.

The Southeast Division has been cursed with the moniker of being the "south" ever since its inception. That label has made the Division and most of its teams the scourge of the League, a group of outcast teams that no other Divisions or teams or fans in other Divisions want any association with. And that outcast status has directly or indirectly had an effect on the financial difficulties that some of those teams have experienced. Washington has escaped, for the most part, that exile because of it being the northern most of the Division's teams but primarily because in the eyes of many it maintained its connection with the old Patrick Division.

The Pacific Division, on the other hand, is for the most part no less a "southern" Division than is the Southeast. But whereas the Pacific Division (not named the Southwest Division) and its teams have received only minor ridicule, the Southeast has never been able to escape it. Even with both Divisions having two Cup champions in the past 11 years as well as both with an additional Finals appearance in that time span. Furthermore, Washington, Carolina, and even Atlanta have more "wintery" climates than any team in the Pacific, so why is it that the Southeast Division has received so much ridicule in comparison to the Pacific?

I think a big part of the answer lies in the name that the Division was given. That southern stigma should never have been placed upon a Hockey Division. Rightfully, when the teams of the Atlantic Division were split up to form the two Divisions in the 6 Division alignment, it should've been Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida which took the Atlantic Division name with them. The other Division should've been named East Central, or something like that (The League with both a West and East Central Division).

You know what they say, sometimes a different name makes all the difference in the world.


** I was thinking to put this in a separate post, but then I decided it would be better to add to the OP:
Don't for a minute think that I'm implying that the name of the Division has been the cause of all of the Southeast's woes. I'm simply saying that perhaps the name didn't do the Division nor its teams any favor.


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01-18-2013, 01:17 PM
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I don't think so. With traditional fans, who aren't the ones the league is trying to attract, the "south" referent to geography may or may not carry some stigma (not all traditional fans care about geography to that extent).

For the fans in the new markets, it probably carries no further meaning beyond a geographical alignment, which is essentially what it is. Sports fans are accustomed to these types of groupings, so I don't think it really matters.

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01-18-2013, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
I don't think so. With traditional fans, who aren't the ones the league is trying to attract, the "south" referent to geography may or may not carry some stigma (not all traditional fans care about geography to that extent).
Certainly, attracting "southern" fans may in one sense be a positive in having a Division with the "South****" name. But as a positive, I don't think that name would make it necessary for people of the region to become hockey fans. I'd say that still there is the potential that the name created more negativity than any positive that might have been associated with it. Again, I just look at the Pacific Division in comparison, with the not so negative image that it has, and really the only significant difference is the fact that the one "southern" Division is in the West and the other is in the East where perhaps more attention, negative and positive, is given.

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01-18-2013, 03:30 PM
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you don't think people would realize that the teams with the lowest fan support are in the south without it being in the name of the division?

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01-18-2013, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
Certainly, attracting "southern" fans may in one sense be a positive in having a Division with the "South****" name. But as a positive, I don't think that name would make it necessary for people of the region to become hockey fans. I'd say that still there is the potential that the name created more negativity than any positive that might have been associated with it. Again, I just look at the Pacific Division in comparison, with the not so negative image that it has, and really the only significant difference is the fact that the one "southern" Division is in the West and the other is in the East where perhaps more attention, negative and positive, is given.
I wouldn't say the name itself had a lot to do with it (though it might have to some extent), but certainly lumping them all together like that was not smart. If you look at how well Nashville and Columbus have come to be accepted as 'legitmate' teams, I think that their numerous visits to "traditional" markets, because of the division they're in, goes a long way in securing that stature. I'm sure the Blues, Seals, Kings, North Stars, Flyers, and Pens suffered similar "othering" when they came into the league and put in an entirely separate division in 1967.

That was one of the things I liked about the proposed realignment, Tampa and Florida would be placed in with the established Northeastern teams, Carolina with the established Atlantic teams, and the Ducks & Sharks with the established Northwest teams. Familiarity breeds acceptance.

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01-18-2013, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brodie View Post
you don't think people would realize that the teams with the lowest fan support are in the south without it being in the name of the division?
Of course I know that looking at a map or just knowing some basic geography and a person can identity that a place is in the south without it being named that. But names do nevertheless have a psychological effect on people; that's why product names are generally very carefully chosen, regardless of whether people will obviously know what the product is or not. And for many, the idea of "the south" is very hockey negative. Again, most seem to look at the Pacific Division in a much less negative way than the Southeast Division; Why is that? I suppose that certainly there could be other explanations; but the "south" label is easy to apply when the product already comes with the name stamped on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Aki Berg View Post
I wouldn't say the name itself had a lot to do with it (though it might have to some extent), but certainly lumping them all together like that was not smart. If you look at how well Nashville and Columbus have come to be accepted as 'legitmate' teams, I think that their numerous visits to "traditional" markets, because of the division they're in, goes a long way in securing that stature. I'm sure the Blues, Seals, Kings, North Stars, Flyers, and Pens suffered similar "othering" when they came into the league and put in an entirely separate division in 1967.
The Pacific teams were all lumped together,... plus Dallas, unfortunately for the Stars Time Zone wise.

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01-18-2013, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Aki Berg View Post
I wouldn't say the name itself had a lot to do with it (though it might have to some extent), but certainly lumping them all together like that was not smart. If you look at how well Nashville and Columbus have come to be accepted as 'legitmate' teams, I think that their numerous visits to "traditional" markets, because of the division they're in, goes a long way in securing that stature. I'm sure the Blues, Seals, Kings, North Stars, Flyers, and Pens suffered similar "othering" when they came into the league and put in an entirely separate division in 1967.
To me, this is the biggest factor. Carolina's biggest attendance nights are the ones when we're NOT playing our division "rivals".

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01-18-2013, 04:45 PM
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Bettman felt the old names weren't marketable for TV. So he made them just like the other 3 major pros. I doubt being in the Patrick Division would have saved the Thrashers fans from being screwed by their owners or thrown under the bus by the League.

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01-18-2013, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bongo View Post
Bettman felt the old names weren't marketable for TV. So he made them just like the other 3 major pros. I doubt being in the Patrick Division would have saved the Thrashers fans from being screwed by their owners or thrown under the bus by the League.
MLB didn't take that Division naming route, but then in baseball a South Division wouldn't be an issue.

Sure, the Thrashers got screwed over by their owners, no doubt. But just perhaps something like this was in a way a minor factor.

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01-18-2013, 05:13 PM
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Columbus, Phoenix and Dallas all receive flack and they're not in the south east. Washington didn't receive flack and they are in the south east.

Nashville used to receive flack and they're not in the south east. It was only after their attendance jumped that they were viewed with any sort of legitimacy.

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01-18-2013, 05:17 PM
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I think more than division names determine the long-term success of a franchise.

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01-18-2013, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
Seriously, did the NHL make a marketing error when naming one of the 6 Divisions? I think so.

The Southeast Division has been cursed with the moniker of being the "south" ever since its inception. That label has made the Division and most of its teams the scourge of the League, a group of outcast teams that no other Divisions or teams or fans in other Divisions want any association with. And that outcast status has directly or indirectly had an effect on the financial difficulties that some of those teams have experienced. Washington has escaped, for the most part, that exile because of it being the northern most of the Division's teams but primarily because in the eyes of many it maintained its connection with the old Patrick Division.

The Pacific Division, on the other hand, is for the most part no less a "southern" Division than is the Southeast.
It's clear that you aren't an American

The South to any American is







Regardless of their longitude, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona are not and will never be "The South"


I also think the South only has a negative connotation with hockey because of the Canadian media.
A Canadian hears the word South and they think of the Sunbelt and failing hockey teams.
The average American hears "the South" and thinks of Robert E Lee , grits, and biscuits and gravy.


The problems the NHL teams have had in the South is bad management.



Case in point:

The NFL has division named the NFC south, and the AFC South and they don't have the negative association that it does in hockey




Several of these teams are very successful and some have won Superbowls recenrtly


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01-18-2013, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
Columbus, Phoenix and Dallas all receive flack and they're not in the south east. Washington didn't receive flack and they are in the south east.

Nashville used to receive flack and they're not in the south east. It was only after their attendance jumped that they were viewed with any sort of legitimacy.
Columbus gets grief here on the Business Board because people are aware of the poor numbers financially. What people's perspectives are outside of this forum, I'm not sure.

Dallas and Phoenix are both considered southern cities; but Dallas really hasn't gotten a whole lot of bad attitude from fans for that fact. And as for Phoenix, well the story speaks for itself; it's not a proper comparison in any way, shape, or form.

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01-18-2013, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post

Dallas and Phoenix are both considered southern cities.
Phoenix is not considered a Southern city by any American.

It you told someone from Arizona that you think they are in the South, they would laugh at you

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01-18-2013, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dingo View Post
It's clear that you aren't an American

The South to any American is



Just to clarify... I do know what the "South" is in US history and culture. But I'm not talking history or culture (I suppose other than hockey culture in an indirect way), I'm talking geography, actual geography, not cultural geography, but geography of the continent, not just the US, in which a lot of regular people think in terms of east, west, north, south, and perhaps central.


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01-18-2013, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dingo View Post
Phoenix is not considered a Southern city by any American.

It you told someone from Arizona that you think they are in the South, they would laugh at you
Awww,... wouldn't most people, even in the US, say that Arizona and New Mexico are the "Southwest"... Pardon me, not trying to create a fight, but "south" is part of the name "Southwest", just as "south" is part of the Division name "Southeast".

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01-18-2013, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
Just to clarify... I do know what the "South" is in US history and culture. But I'm not talking history or culture (I suppose other than hockey culture in an indirect way), I'm talking geography, actual geography, not cultural geography, and geography of the continent, not just the US, in which a lot of regular people think in terms of east, west, north, south, and perhaps central.
What exactly is your point then?

This is your post once again

Quote:
The Southeast Division has been cursed with the moniker of being the "south" ever since its inception. That label has made the Division and most of its teams the scourge of the League, a group of outcast teams that no other Divisions or teams or fans in other Divisions want any association with. And that outcast status has directly or indirectly had an effect on the financial difficulties that some of those teams have experienced. Washington has escaped, for the most part, that exile because of it being the northern most of the Division's teams but primarily because in the eyes of many it maintained its connection with the old Patrick Division.

The Pacific Division, on the other hand, is for the most part no less a "southern" Division than is the Southeast. But whereas the Pacific Division (not named the Southwest Division) and its teams have received only minor ridicule, the Southeast has never been able to escape it.
Do you think fans in Georgia didn't go to Thrasher games because they were offended by the name "South" in their name?

Or do you think Thrasher fans stayed away because it's hard to be a fan of a team that is run that badly and it's really hard to recruit new fans when you are finishing at the bottom of the standings annually?

If you look at the other southeast teams and Washington, you'll see a difference other than geography.... Washington has been, by far, the most successful team in that conference since it's inception

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01-18-2013, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
Awww,... wouldn't most people, even in the US, say that Arizona and New Mexico are the "Southwest"... Pardon me, not trying to create a fight, but "south" is part of the name "Southwest", just as "south" is part of the Division name "Southeast".
No, they refer to themselves as the "West" or Arizona and New Mexico.
California is never referred to as Southwest either, it's the West, the West Coast, the left coast, or California

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01-18-2013, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dingo View Post
What exactly is your point then?

This is your post once again



Do you think fans in Georgia didn't go to Thrasher games because they were offended by the name "South" in their name?

Or do you think Thrasher fans stayed away because it's hard to be a fan of a team that is run that badly and it's really hard to recruit new fans when you are finishing at the bottom of the standings annually?

If you look at the other southeast teams and Washington, you'll see a difference other than geography.... Washington has been, by far, the most successful team in that conference since it's inception
I was speaking about fans of other teams,... 'We got a SOUTHeast Division team coming to town next week.' Whoopee!

Even as tarheelhockey was suggesting above... Even within the Division... 'We have another Southeast Divisional opponent coming to town, big deal.' But then, within the Division a lot of it relates to virtually none of the teams having a long history in the League.


Why is it that apparently no Divisions want any part of Southeast teams (other than Washington) being made part of their team's Division? Anaheim, Nashville, and Dallas make a name for themselves, and people get a bit interested to see those teams. Tampa and Carolina win Cups, and 'Oh, it's a game against a Southeast team.'


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01-18-2013, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
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No, they refer to themselves as the "West" or Arizona and New Mexico.
California is never referred to as Southwest either, it's the West, the West Coast, the left coast, or California
Did I mention California as being the Southwest?

And fine, you're point about California is truly somewhat valid. It's not called the "south", and if you recall my comparison in the OP between the Southeast Division and the Pacific Division...

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01-18-2013, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by MoreOrr View Post
I was speaking about fans of other teams,... 'We got a SOUTHeast Division team coming to town next week.' Whoopee!

Why is it that apparently no Divisions want any part of Southeast teams (other than Washington) being made part of their team's Division? Anaheim, Nashville, and Dallas make a name for themselves, and people get a bit interested to see those teams. Tampa and Carolina win Cups, and 'Oh, it's a game against a Southeast team.'
I still think it has more to do with talent and franchise success than the name of the division.

Tampa and Carolina didn't have any sustained success after they won their cups and Tampa's momentum was really hurt by the lockout

Calgary, Edmonton Vancouver used to be a huge draws for the LA Kings back in the Smythe Division days.
Vancouver is now the only one of those three that draws well because Vancouver has been the most successful in the last decade and the Kings have a good playoff rivalry.
Same goes for Colorado....


If you look at the Central, buildings fill up when the Red Wings come to town, but not for the Blue Jackets. The Hawks only became relevant again recently and opposing fans didn't fill the building to see them between like 1997 and 2008.


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01-18-2013, 06:43 PM
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Or they could just have taken the NFL approach - and called it the NFC West .

For those who don't know - for 30 years the Atlanta and New Orleans were in the NFC West, and from '95-'02 the NFC West consisted of San Francisco, St Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina.


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01-18-2013, 06:54 PM
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To me the biggest issue that hampered the efforts of the southern expansion was actually the NHL's franchise ownership structure. When they went into the new markets it was important to ice a team that would be competitive relatively early in it's existence.

Established owners pursued an aggressive strategy in order to generate a great deal of expansion fees. The problem is when 1/3 of your league is in unestablished markets some are guaranteed to be perennial losers, which will result in low adoption by fans in the market. Moreover they ensured that new teams would suck by being so protective in the expansion draft. A single league owner would have had a longer term view.

A single owner would also have ensured that the new franchises didn't have shaky ownership, like ASG among others.

I'm not advocating for such a structure, but I do believe it would have resulted in a more successful expansion strategy.

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01-18-2013, 06:55 PM
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Or they could just have taken the NFL approach - and called in the NFC West .

For those who don't know - for 30 years the Atlanta and New Orleans were in the NFC West, and from '95-'02 the NFC West consisted of San Francisco, St Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina.
As a Niner fan, I miss those days

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01-18-2013, 07:11 PM
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The southeast division is what you get when you have a non-hockey guy try to run things. As well-intentioned as it was, I think expansion there was wrong. Maybe the NHL should accept that it is what it is, and leave the 'south' to the AHL and other minor leagues. The NHL THRIVED before the 'big expansion' and they ruined a great thing when they moved the Nords, the Jets, and the Stars. I know that those teams' respective owners moved them, but Quebec, Winnipeg, and Minnesota should never have lost their teams in the first place. Not to say that Colorado doesn't deserve a team...

As a Bruins fan, I miss the old Adams Division. Those were the days... Back then, when you said "Adams Division" or "Patrick Division", you KNEW what you were getting.

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