Lockouts. You may win a better collective bargaining agreement or revenue sharing plan, but you won’t win friends or fans by keeping them out of the arena. With the NHL lockout already consuming the first two weeks of the season, sponsors, season ticket holders, employees, and local business owners are wondering how much their fortunes will suffer until arena doors are opened.
NHL teams are rightly focused on protecting their revenue streams and stakeholders, but they also need to ensure that the frozen season does not strain their relationships with their fans any more than necessary.
Most franchises have turned to promoting their minor league affiliates, hoping to direct their fans’ passion – and dollars – to the farm teams, and get the fans excited about the young prospects who may someday suit up in the NHL. Other teams are aggressively taking to social media to keep their fans interested in and loyal to their team despite the lockout, providing hockey-themed content and entertainment to tide over even the most puck-hungry fans until the first face-off. Here’s our list of the Top 6 Teams Using Facebook to Keep Fans’ Interest During the Lockout:
Description: Welcome to the Official Facebook Page of the five-time Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers www.edmontonoilers.com
After 5 minutes on the Edmonton Oilers page you can almost forget that there’s a lockout going on. After 30 minutes you forget what it was you were supposed to be doing with that time (assuming you’re not on assignment reading NHL teams’ Facebook pages, and this is what you’re supposed to be doing). Oilers strength and conditioning coach Simon Bennett hosts Training Tip Tuesdays, covering all aspects of health, fitness and sports training. The Oil Country Cookbook shares the players favorite recipes (a double bonus in a sport as diverse and international as hockey). The “Now & Then” feature compares highlights and players from the Oilers’ golden era of Gretzky and Messier with the young talent that’s re-energized the city and will make Edmonton a Cup contender for years to come. Toss in comprehensive coverage of the minor league affiliate Oklahoma City Barons, and you walk away with one of the best Facebook experiences from any sport – locked out or not.
Description: Bienvenue sur la page Facebook officielle des Canadiens de Montréal // Welcome to the official Montreal Canadiens Facebook Fan Page.
When you have a history like the blanc, bleu et rouge a lockout is a chance to revisit the team’s majestic past, and teach young fans about the legacy they will inherit each time they enter the Forum. The Habs’ page has been a highlight reel of the greatest goals of Guy Lafleur, the saves of Patrick Roy, discussions about how the Canadiens have changed the course of hockey, and random factoids that highlight what this team means to the sport and to the country (such as how nearly 27 hockey arenas in the province of Quebec are named for former Canadiens). Given the team’s 19 year dry spell without a Stanley Cup, including a string of below-expectation post-seasons, Montreal fans may appreciate the chance to revel in their history before taking their next run at a championship.
Description: The Minnesota Wild is in its 12th season in the National Hockey League and celebrates all levels of the game in the State of Hockey.
The Wild represent not just the state of Minnesota, but the hockey-mad state of Minnesota. Minnesota Wild fans have been selecting the best hockey jerseys from across the state. Minor league teams, colleges, high schools and youth leagues are all represented here. Fans are pouring their passion for their local teams – and their pent-up lockout fever – into the comments at each round of voting, showing that even without the NHL, hockey will always dominate winters on the 10,000 lakes.
Description: Official Facebook page of your Vancouver Canucks. Go to www.canucks.com for all the latest stories.
Canucks fans are so distraught over the lockout that they can’t even bear to be in Vancouver if there’s no hockey. OK, maybe not, but the Canucks’ page highlights fans wearing their team gear around the world: Barcelona, the Great Wall of China, Pisa, and Indonesia are just a few of the places that have been visited by loyal fans sporting the blue and green. For those of us still at home, the Canucks provide a frequently updated team blog with news from the Canucks and their minor league affiliates, photo diaries from training camps, and a look at the team’s non-hockey activities around the community. There are also regular contributions from farm team Chicago Wolves’ goalie Eddie Lack, whose contributions alone make the blog a must-follow for fans of sports and quirky off-beat humor.
Description: Based in Glendale, Arizona, the Coyotes have been members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference since 1996. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/phoenixcoyotes
Hockey fans are pretty evenly divided between blaming the players or the owners for the current lockout. The Phoenix Coyotes Facebook page is maintaining its objectivity by directing our attention to the one party that we can all agree is above the fray: the Paw Patrol. For us old-school types who are still getting used to the ideas of hockey in Arizona and cheerleaders at hockey games, the lockout has given us a chance to warm up to both.
Description: The official Facebook page of the Nashville Predators.
Preds Pride is still going strong, with the team partnering with local stores, restaurants and gas stations to give discounts for anyone wearing team gear on Preds Pride Days. The Predators are also offering concert and game tickets as the grand prize for the Second Annual Social Media Scavenger Hunt taking place throughout the city. And even though the players may not be in action, the Predators’ broadcasters Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson are keeping up the off-ice chatter through team blogs and videos.
Description: This is the official Facebook page of the New Jersey Devils, three-time Stanley Cup champions. Like this page for exclusive content, promotions and other other team info.
Few teams have been as active during the NHL lockout as the New Jersey Devils. With losing the Nets to Brooklyn, the Devils can expect to see a big boost in local fan loyalty. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media, Devils fans can still follow the team and be in the action.