by Lisa Ovens
I have to admit, I just didn’t know where to begin with this latest hockey fan crisis involving Whilethemenwatch and CBC’s Hockey Night inCanada. This whole thing just seems like an April Fool’s joke. The CBC is offering up a choice platform for two women to provide "gossip show" style commentary during the Stanley Cup Final? Two women reaching out to non hockey fans that view the game more as an inconvenience that requires coping skills? Two women who went on TV, and when asked for a sample of their work after being shown a photo of the Sedin Twins, said “Do the Sedins’ curtains match the carpet?" Yep, this does feel like a prank and I so wish I was being fooled for real.
Whether online or face to face, there are always guys and gals in the crowd that are going to seriously question a woman's knowledge and commitment to the game. Where's the card we can flash that instantly proves our hockey cred*? "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few." Yes, I'm playing the Spock quote card. However, I have low expectations from Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso to use their new found power with WTMW on CBC to help us out with the credibility issue after they inadvertently catapulted us back to the Fifties. What are you gonna do?
Like WTMW, I came out of left field with my first book Hockey &High Heels, so I truly knows what it is like to stick your neck out into the world of hockey entertainment, as Lena and Jules are doing with their partnership with CBC Sports. So It’s hard for me not to mention a few of my own experiences as they relate to this story. In my case, along with a lot of good, I also saw some hand wringing, eye rolling and insults because of the title (mostly from women online) and I even had a cyber stalker for a little while. But none of that compares to what I have read about Lena, Jules and the CBC over the last few days. Here's what I am thinking about the CBC.
Come on publicly Funded CBC...
There are plenty of women available who have the talent to deliver quality hockey content suitable for the masses. Hockey minded women deserve to be working in hockey and they deserve to be a part of North American hockey’s biggest event, the Stanley Cup Final. How Jules and Lena wound up being the chosen ones riding the coat tails of the longest running show in the history of sports is beyond me.
I am well aware that the CBC/NHL contract expires in 2015. We saw the CBC lose the HNIC theme song, what else could be on the block in the near future? Obviously strengthening the HNIC brand is vital between now and then. Although I think it is great to see HNIC tinker with their presentation and content, they clearly are out of touch with, well, everything!
The other day I was speaking with Pens hockey writer, Jan Snyder, and she reminded me of the sparkle/studded NHL jersey crisis of 2010. When pressed, the NHL’s merchandise department admitted they didn’t really know what women hockey fans wanted. How do two big companies like the NHL and the CBC completely miss the mark in this day and age?
Often, women are referred to as the elusive female market or the lucrative female market. That’s what we are. Women have this massive purchasing power that is known and lusted after in corporate boardrooms, the world over. Yet, for some reason, as the CBC has demonstrated, the other power we possess is completely ignored. And by other kind of power I mean being in a position to show them what the key looks like and how to use that key to unlock the door to this highly desirable market.
So, I have to ask CBC... are we in this situation because of an old boys' club judgement? Or, and I highly doubt this, are the Whilethemenwatch women working for free? Don't you think it might be more beneficial to target the casual male and female hockey fans first and then tackle the ones that are forced to cope with hockey in their house?
Coming later today...Part Two The Aubrey O'Days of Hockey, Lena and Jules!
* My Hockey Cred...
Ten years ago this summer, I began work on a hockey book titled Hockey and High Heels- A Different Kind of Hockey Book. To make a long story short, H&HH website launched 2004, H&HH book launched 2005, added hockey blog to website in Fall 2006, did my first hockey event for women 2006 (Everett Silvertips) Went on to do events with the Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, plus consulted with other teams, 2010 Winter Olympic Blogger, launched a second book, For the Love of Empty Net Goals- My Adventures Living Hockey, and most recently spoke at the Buffalo Sabres Hockey n Heels event March, 2012. Currently I'm learning how to walk again after seriously breaking my ankle thanks to an outdoor skating accident in Florida.