Trade Deadline: The Movie


Last week, USA Today had an excellent piece where they printed bits and pieces of Brian Burke’s trade deadline journal. The journal covered the two weeks prior to the trade deadline and revealed Burke’s interest in Peter Forsberg, Todd Bertuzzi, and other big names. It also had this awesome quote from Burke:

I talk to Florida assistant GM Randy Sexton about Todd Bertuzzi, and he tells me “the guy we like is Perry.” I offer him profanity.

Burke’s journal revealed a lot more about trade deadline negotiations than fans are usually allowed to know. Another little interesting nugget came in a radio interview with Sharks coach Ron Wilson. Apparently, TSN was already interviewing Bill Guerin before the deal actually finished. GM Doug Wilson came to Ron’s office and asked him if he wanted Bill Guerin to which Ron replied that TSN already said that they had him.

These insider stories are just the tip of the interesting world of NHL trade deadline mania. So for my newest marketing idea for the league, I propose Trade Deadline: The Movie. Here’s the idea — for the two weeks prior to the trade deadline to a day or two after the deadline, send camera crews to cover six teams: two contenders, two teams competing for 8th, and two teams that are sellers. An example for this season would be Buffalo and San Jose (contenders), the Islanders and the Penguins (8th place), and Phoenix and Florida (sellers).

The idea is to give camera crews an all-access pass to document the different ways that teams, coaches, GMs, players, and fans react to the frenzy that is the trade deadline. Show how the contending teams react to big moves and try to make counter moves; show how the borderline teams anguish between buying and selling; show how the sellers try to hold an auction for the highest bidder.

I’d love to see a camera crew follow around a big name player as he prepares for his inevitable fate as a rent-a-player. What are his thoughts and feelings, how does he prepare his family, and how does he say goodbye to his teammates? For the coach, I’d love to see the post-trade reaction — how does his strategy immediately change and how does he break the news to the team.

I say this is a marketing idea because I think all sports fans, not just hockey fans, would find this interesting. Trade deadlines in sports all have different degrees of activity depending on their time of season, salary cap, etc., but I think it wouldn’t be a hard sell to the casual sports fans to let them in on the secrets of high-stakes trade negotiations.

Once the footage is all compiled, I think you can edit it into a two-hour special. To promote it, show 2-3 minute clips of interesting moments (such as a censored version of Brian Burke’s spout of profanity) every day of the week on highlight programs leading up to the premier, and really hype the hell out of the thing as “trade deadline secrets you never thought you could know. ” Considering how quotable most GMs usually are when you get them away from the standard PR fodor, you have to think you’d have more than your share of memorable quotes and snarky quips for two hours of entertainment. If you could get one highly memorable moment in each clip, you could promote the league, promote the players involved, and the teams involved.

I propose premiering Trade Deadline: The Movie the day before the Stanley Cup playoffs start. The idea is to have an event that could grab the non-hockey fan with a really interesting concept, then plug the hell out of the playoffs during the broadcasts and hope that some of the intrigue and personalities could have piqued their interest.

The NHL has shown a little bit of creativity with their new ad campaigns, and they have shown a new willingness to let cameras in places that were previously off limits. If Brian Burke can write a journal for USA Today, why not take it one step further and document the whole thing on film?


6 Responses to “Trade Deadline: The Movie”

  1. 1 OddyOh

    I’d totally watch that…and it would be interesting for non-hockey fans, just from a “behind the scenes” perspective.

  2. 2 Mike Chen

    I liken it to Nick Hornby’s book Fever Pitch — it’s about his insane loyalty to Arsenal in the English Premier League. I know next to nothing about English soccer but it was a fascinating read because really, all obsessive sports fans are the same in our stupidity. I think any casual sports fan can relate to wanting to know what goes on behind the scenes of big negotiations.

  3. 3 Geeves

    wouldn’t work, mike. the league would run all the ads at 2 AM on Versus.

  4. 4 Mike Chen

    Imagine if they could somehow get back on ESPN and they ran a clip every night on Sportscenter. Of course, that would require someone to make smart TV decisions.

  5. 5 Krenn

    The Sabres actually did some of that this year – they had a camera in the room the day of the deadline and the day before. They showed about five minutes of it during intermission in the game that night. Definitely a different perspective on the game and worth watching.

  6. 6 Anonymous

    Hey mike maybe you should pay more attention to the real game rather then focusing on individual incidents that happen in every sport not only hockey. A bench brawl in the SIGH…zzzz MLB, beating up fans in the NBA, and rich psychopaths involved in shooting rampages in the NFL. Now maybe you should take the time to see the real essense of the game by watching rather then jumping on every little incident from highlight reels.

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