Friday, September 21, 2007

Fair is fair...

In this morning's Washington Times, Tim Lemke notes* that Caps players have taken to the phone banks to contact potential season ticket plan buyers. The easy comparison to make here is -- yeah, again -- to the stunt the Penguins pulled a short time back in having players deliver tickets to their fans. Nice, as far as it goes, but you've already got the fan as a customer. It isn't an especially aggressive strategy to build the base, unless one is thinking that future ticket buyers might get a visit from Sidney Crosby.

Pittsburgh is in the enviable position, though, of having a lot of buzz generated by their performance last year and having the Last Best Hope for the NHL wearing the black and Vegas gold. The Caps are, as any fan of the club knows, a team that has had a history of struggling at the gate.

Hockey might be the most fan-friendly sport there is when it comes to fan-player contact. Players seem to be especially willing to make themselves accessible to fans of the sport. To have players take the time to make a couple of dozen or so phone calls is a credit to them in terms of both their attitudes toward fans and the seriousness that they bring to making the franchise successful.

It is also a nice, as well as savvy, touch on the part of the Caps front office. Whatever one thinks of the pricing strategy the club might pursue (and we've been there, so we won't rehash that), this is a club that desperately needs to put fans in the stands. As Donald Brashear put it in Masisak's piece:

"We really need the fans' support. It's a big part of our success, and at times when we get down we could use a little pep, a little more from the stands."

So fair is fair...nice work, guys.

* Not so nice work by The Peerless, having failed to give Mr. Lemke credit for the article in the original version of this post. Our apologies to Tim and Corey for our foul up.

The look...of stats

OK, the Caps lost. Boo-freakin’-hoo. You don’t like to see losing become a habit -- we've had enough of that the last several years -- but it isn’t anything to get all in a knot about either. But now that we’re playing games, let’s bring my pal Dougie in to talk about something really important…

Dougie, what do you think about the new statistics displays on

“They suck.”

Isn’t that a bit harsh?

“Yeah, yeah....but have you seen them? Take a look at the box score. 5v5 5v4 5v3 DN/SH AN/PP…it looks like the ticker from hell.”

But they are providing a much richer set of data.

“That they are, and we appreciate that. But visually, my eyes hurt. It looks like someone barfed up a grayscale Rubik’s Cube.”

What do you mean?

“Look, ‘box scores’ should be simple. They’re not a place to cram every slice of data you can think of.”

You mean like baseball box scores?

“Well, yeah…look at the box score on”…nice and clean, except for that jibberish at the bottom that they could set side-to-side like they do everything else.”

So, what would you do to improve it?

“Well, let’s start right at the top…that scoring summary. Replace it with the period summary..first period, second period, third period, overtime, shootout, goals, shots. Just like the inning display in the baseball box score. Then that scoring summary?...they could break it apart into the team columns, side-by-side…”

But you’d lose that scoring sequence you get with the NHL display…

“No, you wouldn’t…here’s how it might look…go ahead, click on it…”

Well, it’s something to think about. What about the rest of the box score and the “Super Stats?”

“Hey, don’t you have prognostications to work on…”

OK, OK…we’ll talk about that another time…