Palin, Pucks, and Philly: Flyers Smart to Use Sarah for Attention

The Frozen FanCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2008

It’s the tanking economy! It’s the skyrocketing costs of health care! It’s...Sarah Palin dropping puck at a Philadelphia Flyers game?

Yes, folks, that’s right. Sarah Palin, the hockey-mom-turned-potential-possessor-of-nuclear-codes, will drop the puck at the opening faceoff at the Philadelphia Flyers home opener against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Fan responses to this afternoon’s announcement tend to err on the side of anti-Palin. And pro-boo bird. Although one Blue Jackets fan points out that the Flyers' evil qualities may actually sully the Alaska governor. To that I have but one reply—we may have sold our souls to the Devil, but at least we won a cup.

Frankly, this move has nothing whatsoever to do with politics, so Republicans and Democrats alike can sit down and stop being so huffy about the whole thing. In fact, this is possibly the most brilliant move I have seen to launch a season—definitely head-and-shoulders above the NHL’s opening day at the NHL store in New York City.

Palin’s jokes and Detroit Red Wings following brought America’s national attention to the sport of ice hockey in the middle of August. Even a gathering with Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Wayne Gretzky, and Mr. Hockey himself would not have attracted such a media frenzy south of the border in January, let alone during the hottest days of summer.

And let’s consider the amount of national attention the Flyers stand ready to receive for this gesture. A national figure in the midst of a major presidential campaign is coming into their building for a center stage moment. It’s going to get air-time locally, sure. But it will also gain play on Sunday morning political shows, and probably the Monday morning shows like Today and Good Morning America.

But what if the Flyers fans boo Ms. Palin out of the Wachovia Center? So what! That’s a great story—the Broad Street Bullies and their loyal legions take arms against the Vice Presidential hopeful as she drops the puck at center ice. Can anyone say "SNL skit starring the lovely and talented Philadelphia native Tina Fey as Sarah Palin," just waiting to happen?

It won’t be easy for the Flyers to draw attention within the Philadelphia marketplace this weekend. The Phillies start the NLCS on Thursday night, and the entire city is abuzz with their baseball team. The controversy alone of featuring Palin certainly cuts through some of those obstacles.

The move is pure brilliance on the part of Shawn Tilger and his entire public relations staff at Comcast-Spectacor. It’s going to generate huge quantities of publicity at no additional charge to the organization. And in these economic times, every business can use an expense-free boost.

Maybe Gary Bettman should take a few pointers on how to start a season properly...