Monday, June 27, 2005

Jeremy Roenick's New Genius Marketing Strategy to get Fans to Return to Hockey

Here's a truism you can take to the bank: Jeremy Roenick is a punk... a spoiled little baby... and a total jackass.

Playing at a celebrity Pro-Am golf event in Pennsylvania, hosted by Super Mario Lemieux, Roenick made some strange and jerky comments over the weekend. Here's just a sampling:

Regarding the new CBA that the NHLPA is about to sign, he said "The deal in February beats the (tar) out of the deal we're going to sign in July, Unfortunately we had to go through a whole year to realize all the (stuff) that was going on and not realize we just had to get a game on the ice. And we've hurt our league, we've hurt the reputation of our league and we've hurt the integrity of our league by sticking up for something that might not have been the right thing to do. If we would have signed that deal in February, in terms of what we're getting now, we would have looked like heroes. Right now we look like a bunch of idiots."

Of fans who criticized the players' union during the lockout, Roenick said the following completely shocking and indefensible comments: "Don't come. We don't want you in the rink. We don't want you in the stadium. We don't want you to watch hockey. Period. If people are going to sit and chastise professional athletes for making a lot of money... being spoiled and being cocky, they need to look at one thing and that's to look at the deal that we are probably going to end up signing in the next three weeks. They better understand that pro athletes are not cocky. Pro athletes care about the game... everybody out there who calls us spoiled because we play a game they can all kiss my (rear)."

Excuse me?!?! Did one of the game's most vocal and recognizable players just tell the fans to stay away?! During this lockout, I have found that there are three types of fans: fans who blame the players, fans who blame the owners, and fans who blame both, and they're all fairly comparable groups in their size. That means that roughly two-thirds of the fans place blame on the players. And he's telling those fans to stay home?! Jeremy Roenick doesn't want you to come to hockey unless you completely agreed with the players' union during the lockout, apparently.

What makes this worse is that just moments earlier he ripped the players' union for their negotiating stance!! Read the first quote I listed, where he rips the deal they're going to sign, and then rips the NHLPA, saying "we've hurt our league, we've hurt the reputation of our league, and we've hurt the integrity of our league." Then, in the final quote, he seems to say--and I'm paraphrasing--"Even though it was us that hurt the league so badly, to all those fans out there that dare have the opinion that I just shared...that it was us players that did the harm....f*** those fans!!"

I mean, this is the ultimate in pro athletes talking like babies throwing temper tantrums. "Waaaaah, we screwed up and now our salaries will be slightly lower (and yet still higher than the average hockey-fan's salary by about a million a year)!!! F*** the fans for this!!! It's all our fault....and the fans'!!!" Man, I've never wanted to punch a professional athlete more than this guy. Geez. What a retard. His comments offend me on so many levels.

Even if you take away how blatantly he contradicts himself...he's still basically saying that fans who dare to have an opinion on the lock-out that differs with his opinion shouldn't come to the game. They should, in fact, "kiss his ass." Nice. Way to be an ambassador for the game. I'm sure that right now Roenick's tied up in a hotel room, Goodenow and Trevor Linden standing before him, chastising him for being such an outspoken moron. His comments make me want to walk away from hockey much more than the entire lockout has!

Has Roenick, who seems to suggest that players' salaries aren't all that high, forgotten who pays those salaries?! He might think that it's the owners that do, but it's not. They're just a filter. The money comes from me, from Chris, from Jason at Predator's Den, from my buddy Kevin, and from all the hockey fans in the world who buy tickets and Roenick jersey's. I'm thinking of buying a Roenick jersey and defacing it somehow...and then wearing it to every game this season. Maybe you guys can help me think of a clever way to deface it. Maybe I replace his last name on the back with the phrase, "Kiss my ass" or "F*** the fans!". Maybe I just put dollar signs all over the thing. I don�t' know.

But I used to think JR was funny, clever, honest, and a darn good hockey player. Now all I see is a diaper-wearing hate-monger...who'd rather have the fans who thought the union was being greedy stay home entirely. (Please note that there would be no faster death for the NHL than to actually have this happen, where fans who blamed the players for the lockout actually stayed home). He's clearly upset about the deal they're about to sign. But that's no reason to bash the fans, buddy.

There's no logic whatsoever to his comments. He's just lashing out. And to lash out at the fans who grease the wheels of his precious little game is just a jackass move. I'm waiting to see if there's any league or union response to Roenick's comments...because it might have some bearing on how I view the sport. This type of comment is like Bush saying to America, just before last year's election, "American public...screw you! Don't vote if you don't like me, you ninnies!"

I mean, it's just dumb. It's offensive. It's rude. In short, it's everything the players can't afford to be right now. They need to build goodwill with the fans--who, by the way, have a right to their opinions, as though I even have to say that. I hope some vocal players step up and directly challenge Roenick's opinion, and try to reassure the fans that the players' union appreciates all their money. This sport could still realistically die off if enough fans don't return. And telling the fans to screw themselves is not a good start to building a bridge to the public.

So, Mr. Roenick, here's my official response: "Don't worry. When you're on the ice, I won't be there...except maybe to see Tootoo bash your greedy, money-making, whiney-ass head into the boards. will be there. I'll be there to watch you play. To show you that you don't own the PSL for the seats in my arena. To show you that the sport belongs to me much more than it does to you. Look for me...I'll be the one holding up a sign of you flipping the bird to the fans. I hope you get hit in the eye with a catfish, you self-absorbed, spoiled-rotten, rich-as-hell little baby!"


At 6/27/2005 11:04:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

Whoa there Nelly. Do I sense a bit of rage in this post?

I like JR and I'll tell you why. He always speaks his mind. He calls it like he sees it and he doesn't mince his words.

Even after flipping the bird to a huge populate of hockey fans I still like him, and I'll tell you why. There are a lot of sports fans that need to be flipped the bird. There are a lot of sports fans who don't understand the fundamentals of supply and demand. These fans don't recognize that the star athletes really are worth what they're paid because they can do what none of us can do, and it's something we'd like to pay to see.

I still like JR and here's another reason why. Sometimes he says mind numbingly stupid things. You see, that makes him real. Sometimes I say mind numbingly stupid things, and I would hate for the world to hate me forever because of it.

So, I'm going to humbly agree to disagree with your rant.

At 6/27/2005 11:14:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Well, first of all, you're not disagreeing with my rant when you say that Roenick "says mind-numbingly stupid things." That's the point of my rant.

Second of all, I think you woke up on the disagree-with-KW-side-of-the-bed this morning, because I seem to remember both of us starting a now-failed website in an attempt to get the lockout ended. The point of our endeavor was to promote how the fans are the gas that runs the NHL engine. Roenick's comments should insult you, and they probably would if you thought about it much.

Thirdly, yes, there's rage in my comments. I'm a fan who thought the players union was the major obstacle to the CBA (as you are...and heck, Roenick even thinks the union was the major obstacle). Roenick is insulting me with his comments. You might think it's quaint to have a sports figure who "speaks his mind and doesn't mince words". I would, instead, suggest that enough is enough. Why do we keep praising people for "not mincing words" when "not mincing words" is analagous to being rude and inconsiderate?! Why does he deserve our fandom just for blurting out stupid things?

Fourthly (is that even a word?) are you saying I'm one of the fans who don't understand supply and demand of the sport? Are you saying I "don't recognize the star athlete's are really worth what they're paid" because we fans gladly pay to see it? Because you should know, from our numerous conversations, that I understand the game's economics. And that never have I said the players didn't deserve what they're paid. Instead, I've said the players don't deserve to make their salary be the sticking point on a CBA.

Finally, I never said I'd hate Roenick forever for his comments. I merely suggested I'd hold them against him for the upcoming season. He's a jerk, and you're defending him by basically saying, "his jerkness makes him real." Well look at someone like Cal Ripkin or Greg Johnson or even Wayne Gretzky. Are you saying that since these guys are eloquent, polite ambassadors for their sports that this somehow makes them less real?

Don't take it personally or anything, but sometimes I think you just like to contradict. It doesn't offend me or anything...but if you analyze your own comments to me over the past year regarding the lockout...I think you'd see that you don't disagree with me. I honsestly can't see why you're sticking up for Roenick here. I've never heard you talk of liking him all that much.

At 6/27/2005 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

And now the venom has been turned my direction. Ouch... oh, make it stop.

I'm only being contrary because it seems that you are attacking JR for attacking you, but I don't think he was attacking you. I don't think you understand what he said and who he directed it to.

The quote that I'm sure got your ire up was, "Everybody out there who calls us spoiled because we play a game - they can kiss my ass." Well, I agree with him, anyone who thinks that someone is spoiled because they get paid a large salary to play a game can go take a flying leap.

He wasn't attacking people who are opposed to the NHLPA's stance (he clearly was opposed to the NHLPA's stance also). He wasn't saying anything about people who are upset about the lockout (he clearly has been upset about the lockout as well). He was talking about people who think that players are all overpaid babies that don't deserve their salaries.

You know that they are worth what they can get (because you understand the economics) so he's not talking about you, and he's not talking about fans who think the players are at fault in this mess.

That's why I think you are being unfair to call him a jerk. It's not like one statement can make a person into a jerk, nor can that small soundbite give you access to his soul. I just think you should temper your response a bit and use your anger to continue going after drunk drivers and child molesters.

At 6/27/2005 01:04:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Okay, I think it's important to set a few things straight for the readers:

1. I didn't just hear about Roenick's comments this morning and go off writing my tirade. I heard about it Saturday morning. Two days of mulling it over and it still angers me. While I'm sure my original post can be seen as a tirade, I think it's playing fast and loose with semantics to call it rage. I think I made some good points...intelligent ones. Your characterization of my argument as "rage" seems to indicate that I flew off the handle without thinking through things.

2. Kevin and I just had lunch, laughing over tacos while we continued to try and sway the other's opinion. Our friendship is not threatened by our disagreement here. And whether or not he'll admit it...he's playing devil's advocate here. Sure, he likes Roenick (still news to me, but hey, what are you gonna do) and doesn't completely agree with me...but he doesn't disagree with me as much as his comments might suggest. He and I are both having fun. Which leads me to my next point...

3. There's not venom in my comments to kevin, though he suggests playfully that there is. I didn't call kevin any names or cuss him. I just responded to his disagreement.

With that out of the way, I'll continue defending my position:

To say that I can't call Roenick a jerk based on his comments, and that one statement can't make a guy a jerk...well, again, I think you're having fun with semantics. Would it be more accurate to say, then, that what he said was a jerky thing to say? And if so, if you say it's okay to say his comments were jerky...but not okay to call him a jerk...then we're just splitting hairs for the sake of a fun argument.

When he comes out and steps back from his comments...I'll stop calling him a jerk. But this isn't like it's something he said years ago and I'm still judging him on it. He just said it this weekend! And it's a jerky thing to say. He's shown no remorse for saying it, and hasn't taken it back. So I feel justified calling him a jerk.

And we can play "twist his words to fit our argument" until the cows come home. I know that what he said was directed at "fans who are whining about (them) playing a game." But he didn't exactly clarify things too well, now did he. The sentiment of what he said was directed at fans who criticized the players. I was one such fan, and as such, am offended.

The bulk of the fans of any sport are not rich, and you would be hard pressed to prove that they don't have the same thoughts regarding players' salaries. I work hard all year for a measly 25K and spend a lot of it on hockey. I've never said they don't deserve their salaries...but that they don't deserve to let a slight dip in those salaries be a sticking point that leads to a lockout. That, to me, was selfish. Greedy? Maybe, but not necessarily.

Roenick is a role model, and an ambassador for his sport. Like it or's true. He cussed the fans. He told a portion of the fans to not come back. That's stupid. And it's a jerk-thing to say. I don't think a non-jerk would say that. At least a full 50% of my "rage" is because of the fact that if hockey is to right its ship, we can't alienate any fans...even if we think those fans are dumb. I'm mad at him for angering fans and causing another hurdle for the sport I love as much as I'm angry at him because I disagree with him.

Kev, in your first comment, you even admit that he essentially flipped the bird to a "huge populate of hockey fans." But then you seem to be clueless as to why that would piss me off.

Why can't I be angry at him even if he wasn't talking about me?

By the way, I have plenty enough anger to go around. I have plenty to spare after this post to still throw some at the child molesters and drunk drivers. But thanks for making it sound like I'm a toddler throwing a tantrum...appreciate that. My perspective isn't out of whack. This guy was rude and wrong. And I should be allowed to call him on it, whether or not I'm a hockey fan. You may feel my anger is disproportional to his comments....but if that's the case...then just say that. Don't tell me you respect him being blunt and crass and vulgar because it makes him real. Just because a lot of us say blunt and crude things from time to time doesn't make it right. I don't think it's asking too much to expect our professional atheletes to respect the fans and to give sound bites free of swear words and vitriol. Any athelete that tells any fan to stay away from the game (for any reason) is a moron. If you wanna talk about how it's a business (and throw around the economics of the game) then you should by association have a problem with his comments...because they damage the economics of the game if they keep fans away from hockey.

At 6/27/2005 01:13:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Oh yeah. Wanted to add one more thing...

Even stupid fans who don't understand the system have a right to attend hockey games...and to have an opinion about things. You and Roenick make it sound like a smarts versus dumbs contest and the dumbs don't have a right to watch an exciting sporting match. That's silly.

JR is basically saying, "If you think we're spoiled for playing a game, stay away because you're stupid and we don't want your tainted retard money in our game." Again, that's pretty jerky. Do you seriously (search your heart, honest now) you seriously think stupid fans who don't understand massive economics should be barred from coming to the games?

At 6/27/2005 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It's really depends on what area of the arena you are in. The comments by Roenick remind me of a similar sort of exchange between a sports radio caller and my favorite all-time sports radio guy Bob Kemp (who is, I believe, retired, but given the nature of Nashville sports radio we wouldn't be able to hear him anymore anyway).

The caller came in with the typical rant, "Athletes are spoiled! I hate greed! These guys are total babies!" etc. And Kemp replied, "Then don't attend the games anymore. If you hate it that much, then don't go," and then he ejected the caller. This is a typical rant from people--it exposes the conflict within us all.

First and foremost, we all love the game and watching it. That is above and beyond any hatred we may have for the cogs of the game (players, coaches, owners, referees, certain questionable rules). So when someone like Roenick comes out and says, "Don't come!" there are several considerations.

1. Roenick is not a talk show host. He is a part of the NHL product. He IS a product. This is why his comments are wrong, because he threatens sales. The guy on the fence who is trying to decide whether or not to come back to hockey may have gotten the push he needs.

A consumer decides, based on many factors, of whether a product is for them or not--they weigh the good and the bad, and I don't have to tell you which needs to outweigh the other in order to be bought. Considering that the NHL is the lowest-rated "major" for a variety of reasons, comments like Roenick's add yet another reason not to watch.

2. Unfortunately, Roenick's comments were probably said out of passion, and it comes out dumber than it really is. He loves the game, and hates having the barrage of accusations that he plays it just for the money. Imagine if you are in any profession that just happens to make a lot of money, but you love it for the profession that it is, and people keep saying, "Dude, really, this is about the money. You'd have no passion for this sport if it wasn't for that." That would anger me.

3. When it comes to sports economics, most people DO NOT understand. You get millions just skate around and score goals? Sign me up! Most people in the world cannot do this, but that's not the point. The point is that people pay lots of money to see it. If people could afford to pay lots of money to put their kids through school every school day, then good teachers would get millions of dollars. So whenever a CBA comes up, and there's a dispute, it SEEMS like EVERYONE involved is greedy, because the shared money between owners and players is in the billions, and it seems like they argue over millions like we would argue over ten bucks (in other words, a million or so doesn't sound like a lot to us when we hear about all the money that's being thrown, what's an extra million when you're already making 5 million?).

In the past two major lockouts with baseball and hockey, I think the owners exaggerated their losses but the players overestimated the appeal of their sports--a bad combo. Both hockey and baseball do not have the TV exposure that the NFL does (a sport, by the way, that UNDERPAYS their players due to the salary cap--it's the only sport I ever hear of someone holding out of training camp because of money), and players were calling for money that simply isn't there...but owners tried to make it sound like they are losing money going towards bankruptcy, which no one believes. Somewhere in all that, is a happy medium--but no one wants to lose face. Ego--there you go--is the enemy of perfection.

In the face of those considerations, Roenick can probably say whatever the hell he wants to and it won't do that much damage to the sport. It may make him a more hated figure and people will want to buy MORE tickets to express their hatred. I don't think Roenick should be saying those things, due to the first factor mentioned above--but it certainly gets people talking about hockey and it adds flavor whenever Roenick makes a visit to an arena near you.

It's almost like those classic Red Wings/Avalanche brawls. "Wow, that's terrible. We put a bad face on the name of hockey today." But more people watch the next day, guaranteed. If you've got a remedy that can keep people from watching something they love because of some tarnish, then we need to figure it out in order to enforce change. The NHL has been through enough of that tarnish, and now they're going to experiment with rules-changes and the like.

My opinion of Roenick? Yeah, I can't wait until Tootoo knocks him out, either. And those are the breaks when you are in that part of the arena making those statements.

At 6/27/2005 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

"ego is the enemy of perfection."

That's some profound stuff there, Chris. I like it. You smart good.


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