After his three goal, one assist performance last night, Steven Stamkos sits alone at the top of the NHL in both goals and points.  Last season he tied Sidney Crosby to win the Rocket Richard Trophy and he’s now scored 19 goals in 19 games.  Not that this pace will continue but, if it somehow did, Stamkos would score 82 goals this season.  The last player to score over 70 was Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny in 1993.

Stamkos definitely has the attention of the hockey world.  Puck Daddy is wondering if he could score 50 goals in 50 games.  The Globe and Mail is asking if he is the new face of the NHL.  Our own Kevin Burgundy wants to know whether or not Stamkos can hit 70 this year.

By now it’s evident that Steven Stamkos can score goals.  We’ve gotten to the point where it makes sense to compare him to some of the NHL’s other great goal scorers.  Alexander Ovechkin, who won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2008 and 2009, has ten goals in 19 games this year.  His teammate Alex Semin has 14 goals and he sits second in goal scoring behind Stamkos.  Sidney Crosby sits in third with 13.

Is Stamkos a better goal scorer than those rivals?  Is he a better player?  And, perhaps most importantly, will he ever be as widely recognized and promoted as Crosby and Ovechkin?

You don’t have to be a marketing major to realize that the NHL has put almost all of their eggs into Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin’s collective basket.  Just look at the Winter Classic for further evidence of that.  Has Stamkos played well enough to be marketed to the extent that those two players are?  Or is the NHL happy with its Sid/Ovi rivalry?

Steven Stamkos plays in Tampa Bay, which could be both a blessing and a curse for him in terms of marketing potential.  The downside to playing in Florida is that the NHL is not at the forefront of many minds in that state.  Also, the state is not at the forefront of many hockey minds in the rest of the continent.  It will be hard to push a player as the face of your league when he plays in a restrictive market.  The NHL would likely never be able to stage a Winter Classic in Tampa Bay.

However, the league clearly wants hockey to be more popular in the southern United States and Stamkos may be the man that makes this possible.  Having a superstar playing in Tampa Bay will raise the prestige of the organization and sell a lot more tickets.  The Tampa Bay Lightning have an average attendance of 15,677 which fills 79.3% of their arena.  If the NHL pushed Stamkos as the proverbial ”next big thing,” and if he and the Lightning perform well this season, that number will likely go way up.

That means more money for everyone.

So is time for the NHL to add a third face to their marketing line-up and create a holy trinity of hockey?  It would likely be good for the game and also very good for Steven Stamkos.

After all, he’s done enough to distinguish himself as one of the NHL’s best.

Comments (4)

  1. Never mind the comparisons to current players, what about Brett Hull? Is he going to be that good? His shot seems to be…

  2. [...] spring, and those long-held rivals in Toronto.Steven Stamkos: How do you make the NHL re-think that strict Crosby and Ovechkin marketing strategy? How about knocking on the door of 20 goals in mid-November, and scoring four more this week.Plays [...]

  3. Sigh. You underestimate the Tampa Bay hockey market where the Lightning are averaging over 75% attendance and the Buccaneers are around 65% capacity. 3 out of 4 people you meet in Tampa are from somewhere else, typically north of Tennesee and east of the Mississippi. You know, hockey country… So there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the Tampa Bay market that know hockey, which is a good thing for Tampa hockey in general; wouldn’t you agree?

    That’s not to say there are no struggles in the Tampa hockey market. The number one issue is that the aforementioned people from the north that cling to their “hometown” teams because it’s loyal, makes them “unique”, and self perceived as “cool”; that is until the Lightning (or Bucs/Rays for that matter) give them something to cheer about, and then you see the same “diehard” Rangers, Bruins, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Sabres, and Leafs (Bears, Giants, Patriots, Yankees, Red Sox) fans dawn the Lightning sweater leading up to a play off (pennant) push. But hey, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Plant City, and Temple Terrace are relatively young cities. Sure the population may be in the millions (including the aforementioned cities as there’s no such city as Tampa Bay) but of the millions of people, 3rd and 4th generation Tampa Bay residents are an extremely minimal percentile as the main populaton growth has only occured within the last 20 – 30 years with the largest population increase occurring in the last 15 years. And again, the vast majoity of people who have come to live in Tampa Bay are from the North East US. It’s why Tampa was chosen to be the home of the first South Eastern NHL franchise, and why the Yankees play spring ball less then a block from where the Bucs play at RayJay…the majority of people, yes over 50%, are originally from somewhere else, and most likely the North East US.

    I’m not ragging on your blog editrorial, Stamkos IS a beast as any moron with half a brain can point out, but if you’re going to BS your way through mentioning a market that you obviously haven’t researched you should post a disclaimer or something to atleast maintain some credibilty.

  4. [...] under General on Mar 29, 2011 One of the biggest stories in the first half of the NHL season was the incredible pace at which Steven Stamkos was scoring goals.  People were talking 50-in-50.  Some were talking 70 on the year.  The electrifying scoring [...]

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