Is Marketing more important than History?

Daniel Bigras@@tricoloreCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2008

Does an NHL hockey team randomly choose which date of origins to use in order to celebrate an anniversary?

Are they sacrificing the history of their organisation by forgetting their true origins?

Is the marketing of a hockey team more important than its history?

Many questions that I’ve been asking myself lately, and in this article I will explain in details why I have these unanswered questions.

First of all, there are no standards amongst NHL teams on which original date to use when it’s time to calculate an anniversary to celebrate a team, a franchise or an NHL organisation. Some teams have been transferred; some teams come from another league. Which date should they use? Their NHL origins, their previous team’s origins or their previous league’s origins?

For example, the Montreal Canadiens come from the National Hockey Association. The Edmonton Oilers, the Quebec Nordiques, the Hartford Whalers and the Winnipeg Jets came from the World Hockey Association.

Many teams have moved from one NHL city to another. Like the Calgary Flames (Atlanta), the Colorado Avalanche (Québec), the Dallas Stars (Minnesota), the Phoenix Coyotes (Winnipeg and the Carolina Hurricanes (Hartford).

But when a team celebrated an anniversary, some teams will celebrate only the years they have played in the NHL in the current city; in 1999-00, the Calgary Flames celebrated their 20th anniversary, forgetting their Atlanta roots.

But 3 years before, in 1996-97, the Flames celebrated their 25th franchise anniversary, remembering their original roots. Talk about a nonsense.

For 2008-09, the Edmonton Oilers are celebrating their 30th anniversary, but they are not counting their 6 years in the WHA.

In 2004, the Colorado Avalanche celebrated their 10th anniversary in Denver, while completely forgetting their Quebec Nordiques history.

I believe the league should decide, not a team, if a team should celebrate or not the true origins of a franchise. As far as I know, the Colorado Avalanche still have amongst their best players that only played with the Quebec Nordiques, like Mats Sundin for example. By allowing the Colorado franchise to forget the Nordiques is an insult to the city and its fans that motivated the organisation to put together the team that won a Stanley Cup the year after.

In 2007-08, the Nashville Predators celebrated their 10th season in the NHL, while the league itself doesn’t even count the 2004-05 season in their sequence of seasons. The 2008-09 season should be the 92nd, but according to the NHL, it’s the 91st.

And of course, on October 10th, the Montreal Canadiens will be celebrating their 100th season, they are counting the lock-out season, but they are also counting the NHA seasons. I believe that it’s the first NHL team that is counting the seasons played in a previous league.

The only comparable example would be the Calgary Flames, like I’ve mentioned earlier, they celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1996-97 by including the years played in their original city, Atlanta. But that was not part of another league, Atlanta was in the NHL. Ironically, they forgot that history a few years later.

Is the Montreal organisation using the 8 NHA years in order to reach the fantastic 100 seasons milestone quicker?

Most probably.

Should they follow the example of other teams by omitting the seasons played in another league? Because what is more important, the NHL or a dead league?

On the contrary, maybe the Montreal Canadiens organisation is an example to follow, because they are showing respect to their roots.

Is Bombardier Aerospace telling their investors and clients that they started building aircrafts in 1986 when they acquired Canadair? No, they are not. They are saying that they are building planes since 1994, when Canadair was founded. I know this information because I’ve worked for Bombardier Aerospace. The past is very important for this organisation. The Canadair team evolved, got better, and is still very present in the Bombardier organisation.

My point is that it is very sad that the National Hockey League is not giving standards to follow. Each team can celebrate whichever date their Marketing strategy will benefit from.

As the owner of the league’s history, the NHL organisation should be also responsible for the respect deserved by those who helped built this league. They are doing their part with the Hockey Hall of Fame, but it’s not enough.

I hope one day the league will fix this situation by setting rules that teams will have to follow when it comes to celebrating anniversaries. If they can squelch coaches and managers from talking too much, they should squelch the marketing departments that disrespect the origins of many teams.

I believe that the Montreal Canadiens is an example to follow, by respecting their original team, at least, the one we believe that was born on December 4th 1909, which might not be the case. More on that subject in another article.

Thanks for reading.