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Friday, May 23, 2008

How does a PR guy pick a team to root for in the playoffs

The truth is, when you get so emotional invested in your team, when you’re around them for over seven months it’s hard to start rooting for another team in the playoffs. That is, unless they’re playing the Rangers. Then it’s really easy.

During the season, some people see the opponent as the enemy. But when the Islanders visit Pittsburgh or Detroit visits the Islanders, the staffs of both teams get to know each other on a business and personal. And then they become simply the opponent. You want to beat them and you get pissed off if you lose. But a working relationship or friendship develops.

So often times when I find myself watching playoff hockey and I find myself wanting to root for one team over the other I decide this way: Which PR staff do I like better? Yeah, I know that sounds dumb.

Most teams have great people working in their media departments. I was asked the other day who I thought had the best PR staff in the NHL. The answer was easy for me: Minnesota. Billy Robertson has assembled a staff that works hard for their team and treats visitors as one of their own. Granted, some teams are just filled with jerks. But the vast majority of the PR staffs around the league get along great.

So sometimes it’s tough. Do I root for Tom McMillan and his Penguins or Zach Hill and his Flyers? Or Jason Rademan and the Stars or Tom Holy and the Sharks?

Unfortunately I don’t know John Hahn from the Red Wings that well. But Tom McMillan is as solid as they come in the NHL PR world. So...

Go Pens Go.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guerin’s being honored for work in LI communities

In my six years with the team, I never saw a new player come to the team and embrace the local community like Bill and Kara Guerin have. It’s obvious the Islanders are reaching out to the community more than ever with the I.C.E. Tour debuting this summer. But that outreach and the connection the team makes with the community and its fans couldn’t be done without the participation and support of the players.

And Bill Guerin is a perfect example of that. Bill and his family clear their schedules to make room for community appearances.

For his outstanding work in just his first 10 months being an Islander, Bill and Kara are being honored at the Long Island Children’s Museum on May 30th.

Part of the evening will include a live auction, which Bill and Kara are offering up the opportunity for 12 children to play a game of street hockey at their Long Island home with Islanders captain.

To purchase tickets to the event, click here or call 516-224-5813.

Bill and Kara really stepped up this year with their involvement in children’s charities. Sometimes athletes only get mentioned when they did something wrong or bad. Although they don’t seek the attention, Bill and Kara deserve to be recognized for this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So, who said the conference finals would be good?

Ok, so I couldn’t have been more wrong with this one. Injuries, sure… But even still, I would have thought Dallas or Philly would have at least won a game by now between the two of them.

As one of my friends said: “Well, these playoffs really went down the crapper…”

But here’s to hoping that the Detroit/Pittsburgh finals will be great. Hey… If both teams are dominating right now, shouldn’t that be a great match-up?

If both teams sweep, the Finals could start as early as this weekend or Monday. With two weeks left in May, the Stanley Cup might be awarded in May for a change instead of June.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ESPN adds Cherry to beef up NHL playoff coverage

By WILLIAM HOUSTON

Don Cherry is taking his commentary and wardrobe south of the border, where he will make regular appearances on ESPN during the NHL’s Eastern Conference final.

“I guess they like my jackets,” the Hockey Night in Canada personality said yesterday.

Cherry and Hockey Night host Ron MacLean will leave the CBC’s Toronto studio for the road to cover the Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins series, which will start on Friday.

Cherry will do live hits by remote for ESPN’s SportsCentre at the end of each Flyers-Penguins game.

“When I’m finished with the wrap-up on Hockey Night, I’ll do the ESPN spot,” Cherry said. “Sherali [Najak, the executive producer of Hockey Night ] will help set it up for me.”

Cherry has plenty of critics, but ESPN’s move to hire the Canadian-based commentator speaks to his popularity and profile among NHL fans on both sides of the border.

“We’re thrilled,” said Mark Gross, ESPN’s senior vice-president of studio production. “He’s a great personality and being able to incorporate him into our hockey coverage is a nice addition.”

The U.S. sports channel also plans to use Cherry during the Stanley Cup final.

Adding Cherry to beef up ESPN’s playoff coverage will restart speculation about ESPN2 returning as a carrier of NHL games next season. Gross said that decision will be made at a management level above his.

In the conference finals, Cherry picks the Penguins over the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings to defeat the Dallas Stars.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It should be a good series…

"It should be a good series"… That’s what I caught myself saying to Pittsburgh-native Steve Mears tonight when I asked him how long of a drive is it from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. (About 6 hours, according to him).

But then I stopped myself and thought, it’s the Conference Finals, why wouldn’t it be a good series? Sure, we’ve seen our shares of sweeps, but generally when you get to the best two teams in each conference, you’re going to get some pretty good darn hockey games.

Both Philly and Pittsburgh are coming off Semi-Final series where they dominated for wins in five games. This season, the teams have already played each other eight times with the possibility of seven more times for a remarkable 15 games. They know each other and most definitely have some “issues” with each other.

But, some in the Canadian media are saying it’s an un-sexy series because A) There isn’t a team from north of the border left in the race and B) Prince Sidney and the Pens will win because Sidney is Sidney.

Well, looking at the way Philly tore through Montreal to reach this point, there’s no reason why they can’t make this a good and long series. They’re playing up to the potential that they were built to have.

And give Pittsburgh credit… They could be the complete package. With Sidney and Malkin and Hossa and a kid from Long Island, they have as good of a shot as anyone.

And can anyone say Laraque v. Cote or Gill v. Hatcher

So what does this rambling and nonsense mean? There’s a ton of reasons why Philly/Pitt will be a good series and a fun one to watch. Just because there isn’t a Canadian team in the conference finals, doesn’t mean there isn’t good hockey left.

Pittsburgh in 7.