King Kaufman's Sports Daily

NHL to long-suffering fans: Look! New logo! Plus: A free look at one of the best baseball pay sites.

Published July 28, 2005 3:20PM (EDT)

The NHL has a new shield!

We've been talking about what the league ought to do to bring fans back and win new ones following the disastrous lockout that wiped out last season, and yessirree, Bob, this is bound to be a smash.

The old shield logo was black with the orange letters "NHL" slanting down toward the lower right between parallel lines. The new one -- get this -- has silver instead of orange, and the letters slant up toward the upper right!

Lost in this new design is the clever element of the "L," with its obtuse angle, looking like a hockey stick. But we must make sacrifices in the name of progress. The upward-slanting letters "project a vibrant, optimistic image," according to the league.

Optimism is generally an admirable trait, but it's also kind of the default when you've got no place to go but up.

The NHL has done some of the things we talked about, even going so far as to apologize, in the most offhand way, to the customers. Toward the end of the second paragraph of an open letter to fans, mostly expressing gratitude for their patience and talking about how exciting things are going to be "as we move forward," commissioner Gary Bettman actually slipped in the A-word.

"While it may be said that the greatness of hockey, and the NHL, is best measured by the character and tenaciousness of its players," he wrote, "I would add that the greatness of our game is also reflected by the character and tenaciousness of you, our devoted fans. I thank you all for that passionate support and I apologize to all of you, on behalf of everyone involved, for testing that support as severely as we did."

Not exactly the self-flagellation I was looking for, but maybe I'm not as easy as most.

Also the ticket-price "slashes" haven't been what I was hoping to see. I thought half-price for the whole year had a nice ring to it, but teams that have cut prices have tended to knock off about 10 percent. So that $45 ticket will now cost $40.50. That should really help out.

There are a lot of people who can't afford the $200-plus it takes to bring the spouse and two kids to the game on $45 tickets, after you count parking and "convenience charges" but before you lay out for overpriced food or souvenirs. But knock 18 bucks off of that and they'll be there.

But listen, why cut ticket prices when you can redesign the logo? I mean, when I see silver letters instead of orange, and the slant going lower left to upper right instead of upper left to lower right, I think, "This is a dynamic, new, exciting product, but -- thanks to the familiar shape of the shield -- one that still connects to the product I've loved in the past!"

OK, I know how branding and marketing work. My reaction's supposed to be a little more subconscious than that. Or if nothing else I'm supposed to appreciate the symbolism that this is a new era. And I do, and I like the new logo fine except for the quibble that exchanging the orange for silver just makes it look like the logo has gone from color to black and white.

Still, I can't stop thinking of this "Simpsons" episode about the Barbie-like Malibu Stacy.

Lisa becomes incensed with the mindless drivel the new Talking Stacy doll says -- "Let's buy makeup so the boys will like us," etc. -- and teams with Stacy's long-since bought-out inventor to develop a new doll.

Lisa Lionheart is a smash with the media. She has the sensible good looks of Eleanor Roosevelt and says things like, "Trust in yourself and you can achieve anything!" Girls can't wait for her to hit the stores.

The company that makes Malibu Stacy tries calling in a favor in Washington to get rid of Lisa Lionheart, but that doesn't work, so the boss solemnly concedes to his underlings, "Gentlemen, we have to reinvent Malibu Stacy for the '90s."

On the fateful day of the Lisa Lionheart product launch, with a crowd of girls running headlong toward the Lisa display, the new Malibu Stacy makes a dramatic appearance: She has a new hat! The girls flock to her.

I'm sure the NHL's new shield will achieve the exact same results. Especially with that $4.50 knocked off a $45 ticket.

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Baseball Prospectus opens the gate [PERMALINK]

Baseball Prospectus, one of the best and most important sports analysis Web sites going, is making all of its subscription-only content free through Wednesday. If you're not a member, that's an offer worth exploring.

Prospectus, which publishes what I think is the best annual baseball book, combines sabermetric analysis with witty, sometimes downright quirky writing to create a site that's must reading for the serious baseball fan, and pretty damn fun for the casual fan who's not intimidated by statistical analysis. A tip for such people: Ignore the numbers and just pay attention to the arguments.

With the non-waiver trading deadline Sunday, this is a pretty good time to be checking out Prospectus if you don't already read it, and a lucky one for you if you like Prospectus but don't subscribe. Raw stats and a few articles are always free, but sortable stats and most of the commentary is usually behind the gate.

Chris Kahrl, who writes the addictive Transaction Analysis column, will be doing extra duty around deadline time, Prospectus says, as will Will Carroll, who writes a column about injuries but is passing along trade scuttlebutt he's hearing from his numerous sources.

Because this item reads like an advertisement, I'm going to tell you in the interest of full disclosure that Prospectus comps me a subscription to the Web site ($39.95 a year) and sends me a free copy of the annual (ships for $12.21). Other than that I have no stake in Prospectus. I've never worked for it and except as a reader I don't profit from any success it has. You're welcome to the opinion that I can be bought for $52.16, but I can't.

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Clarification [PERMALINK]

In Wednesday's column, I wrote that I hoped some network would give a woman a shot to do play-by-play. I was talking about NFL football, but several readers wrote in to point out that Pam Ward does college football for the ESPN networks. She also does women's college basketball and the WNBA.

She'd be a good candidate for an NFL booth.

Previous column: New "Monday Night Football" team

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