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Poor management exists in the Great North, too

August 30, 2011

Less than a month to go until training camps for the NHL and AHL, and the AHL’s newest team and affiliate of the Winnpeg Jets, still doesn’t have a website up and running. The IceCaps have been branded, branded well (though some might say it looks more like a candy label than anything) and have brought hockey back to one of Canada’s more isolated and lonesome provinces. In part of True North’s takeover of the defunct Thrashers, they rejiggered the AHL affiliations. Wanting a total break with Atlanta (I suppose you can’t blame them?) they knocked their Chicago Wolves affiliation, dropped the Manitoba Moose (which they owned) and moved it to St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

That’s quite a shake-up.

But forward they march. I don’t want this post to focus too heavily on the Jets, for this is about the IceCaps.

And as of August 30th, this is what the IceCaps have for a website:

http://www.stjohnsicecaps.com/

Yes, it’s just one giant image of the logo and shards of ice. An alternate website being promoted is here:

http://www.ahlisback.com/

If you click the blue bubble that reads “latest news” you’ll be brought to page that contains long-form news on the team, written in blog format. There is also season ticket information there. You could say the essentials are present–tickets and basic info. It’s bare bones. You could say they haven’t had a whole lot of time to prepare their website for this season.

But then you’d have to stop yourself, simply, because starting a website isn’t that difficult. Having watched major websites formed from scratch while working a mayoral campaign, I found it’s not all that hard. Why we’re two months on without a functioning website for the IceCaps is beyond me. The team is assuredly focused on long-term success in the region and focused on remaining in St John’s. But they aren’t taking the steps to accomplish this.

First off, creating a website isn’t hard (see above). Second off, it’s a sports team, and there are templates abound for how to do this. People want to know what the roster is–and to date, we don’t know what the roster is. They want to see photos, news and events and the like. Lacking a website creates a barrier between team and fan. Third, don’t repeat the mistakes of Atlanta and countless other markets in terms of failing to enmesh and establish yourself in a community, both on the ground and on the internet.

The IceCaps staff may be taking their time creating a website (or have a consultant doing so) and want to ensure it’s perfect. I understand this. Teams and their online entities are not made overnight. But a website isn’t overly complicated. True North should have set about creating a website for their minor league team day one. While poor management plagued Atlanta, it shouldn’t have to come north. Hockey is Canada’s number one sport, and perhaps it doesn’t need the new media coddling it does in the United States–but at least give it something.

Much like Winnipeg, I have a feeling St John’s is overjoyed at the prospect of pro hockey returning, and the minor issues of not having a website don’t register high on their priorities. But for followers of the league and of hockey, it is a problem. It’s an image and reputation problem. Come on, St John’s. I want them to succeed, and I want them to ice a competitive product. For the sake of the Jets, for the sake of fans, for the sake of the league and hockey.

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