A Strategic Suspension of Avery?

According to the old cliche, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  There is definitely some truth to this statement. A player makes some public mistake and the media covers every detail of that team and league.  It might not be the best publicity, but there is no question that your teams will get a lot of additional media exposure.  But eventually, the hype dies down and the publicity ends, right?  Well, what if the league had an easy way to keep it going, say by suspending the player?

The case I’m specifically referring to is with Sean Avery of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.  Avery recently made some recent off-color remarks regarding an ex-girlfriend that is now dating a player on the Calgary Flames (the team he was playing that night).  Now even though the remarks were crude, players have said and done much worse over the past few years, so you wouldn’t think this would be that big of a story.  Well, Gary Bettman disagreed and decided to immediately take action, suspending him indefinitely and turning the incident into a top story across all media outlets.

Bettman was completely within his right to suspend Avery, but to me it seems just a bit too quick and drastic of a decision.  Then I saw a comment from another blogger (www.motherpucker.ca) who said “Letting him play would have received attention, but it would have died off. Suspending him is viral.” That is a great observation – it was the drastic action by the NHL and the corresponding attention it brought to Avery’s statements that made the story take off.  Could Bettman have been motivated by the publicity he knew the suspension would generate?  It’s not a bad idea, really.  The NHL always struggles to take exposure from the other three major U.S. leagues, so why not do something to generate some headlines?  It will be interesting to see how long the story hangs around and how Avery and the NHLPA react over the next couple of days.  In the meantime, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity!”

3 thoughts on “A Strategic Suspension of Avery?

  • December 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    The suspension was nothing more than Bettman not wanting to see another Bertuzzi/Moore incident on the ice.
    I think the league should have left well enough alone and instead should have hyped the entire thing up to the media.
    The Flames play the Stars 3 more times this season and each of those games could be hyped like a prize fight.
    The suspension will be forgotten by those outside of hockey by the next game, hyping a rematch and replaying all of what Avery said would be a boon for the NHL and could fuel a rivalry between two teams that the NHL failed to do with its scheduling.
    An intense rivalry between players or teams is what the NHL needs to market to appeal to fans outside the sport. I hate to say it but Sean Avery may be exactly what the NHL needs to break through to fans not familiar with hockey.

  • December 3, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I will agree with Ice Cold News on this one.
    The suspension prevents an overly emotionally charged situation, which will likely calm down before the teams meet next.
    Outside of hockey circles this will be forgotten (or likely has been already) very quickly.
    Leveraging the players personal lives/relationships outside of the rink can be a great way to connect with potential hockey fans…if spun correctly.

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