NHL Can’t Invest Everything in Sidney Crosby

images of Sidney Crosby as an action figure

I’m not a huge investor, but I try and read a little bit on the basics of investing, just to keep Mrs. PuckUpdate and I from inadvertently ending up in Ponzi scheme (a very real threat in our part of Queens).

Any basic investment book will constantly remind you of the need to diversify your portfolio. When you have all of your money in one type of investment, say international funds, if that particular market collapses, your investment can be destroyed. But by diversifying, you’re hedging your odds. If one market goes south, your investment in other markets will, presumably, protect enough of your portfolio to allow you to ride out the rough patch.

Put more simply, a tenet of smart investing is to not put all of your eggs in one basket.

It’s not a leap to extend that logic to other transactions. For instance, how about marketing? If you have a diverse portfolio and only market one or two aspects of it, if you run into trouble with those aspects, your marketing plan is killed.

This is where we find the NHL.

The league has put so much into making Sidney Crosby the face of the league, often at the expense of other players and even other teams. But now there are reports Crosby could miss the rest of the season.

So where does that leave the NHL? If the NHL’s message has always been ‘Come watch a hockey game so you can watch Sidney Crosby play!’ what does the message become when Crosby’s no longer playing? ‘Come watch a hockey game so you can watch where Sidney Crosby would have played?’ It’s just not as catchy.

The NHL has so many exciting players that the league, and their partners, have never taken the time to market. Which is a huge part of the reason the Sunday NBC game is almost always some combination of Penguins/Capitals/Rangers/Flyers/Red Wings. NBC is selecting games based upon the NHL’s marketing push and then upon the potential size of the audience, which is also, to a certain extent, driven by NHL marketing.

Hopefully Crosby will get healthy and stay healthy. Hopefully this concussion won’t lead to a premature end to what should be an incredible NHL career. But at the same time, Crosby’s concussion should serve as a wake-up call to the NHL marketing team. If you want to grow the league and make casual fans into serious fans, you have to move beyond promoting just a few players. You can’t put a push behind a few players when the chance of injury is so great in the NHL.

Instead, the NHL should consider marketing a portfolio of players. Within the portfolio, you’d have stalwart stars like Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. But you’d also have rising stars like Steven Stamkos and players having a hot season, like Ryan Kesler, who’s having a career year. As rising stars become established stars, the initial marketing push means fans already know who they are. But most importantly, with a portfolio of players to publicize, if one is injured, there are plenty of others to pick up the slack.

Crosby’s down time is an opportunity for the league to recognize the dangers of investing so much of the league’s future in just a handful of players. It’s time for the NHL to diversify and invest in other players. And it’s even OK if some of those players come from the Western Conference.