Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Brodeur Your Thirst

I never got a chance to discuss it yet, but Martin Brodeur has a biography out that he wrote with Damian Cox of the Toronto Star. It's called Brodeur: Beyond the Crease and it's your basic nuts-and-bolts kind of sports biography. Will you learn amazing insight into the game or the player's mind? Not really. Will you learn of all the dirt on Brodeur's personal and professional life? No. But will you learn about the players' upbringing, his time in the league, and more knowledge about the player than you did prior to the book? Yes. If you're a Devils fan and/or a Brodeur fan, it's a good read; but it's not a book you should run over your grandma over to go get. Anyway, I bought it last summer and I enjoyed it, but there was one fact that has been stuck in my head. No, it had nothing to do with how he became his own agent and how he felt he was a company man. No, it had nothing to do with how he sees himself as French. It's an anecdote about his pre-game rituals (and maybe you heard of this) and it's right there on page 73:
"After the warmup, I go into the dressing room, take my mask and gloves off, and drink three-quarters of a can of Sprite. That's my drink. Gatorade hurts my stomach, and water just doesn't give me enough of a lift. I'll drink three cans of Sprite a night; one before the game, and one during each of the intermissions." (Brodeur & Cox, 2006)
To quote the mortal Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

What we have here is not just any professional athlete; but one of the greatest goaltenders in the NHL stating that he drinks Sprite before and in the middle of games. Not something healthy or designed for athletes; but Sprite. When Martin Brodeur was becoming the second goaltender in history to win 500 games (and making one of the best saves I've ever seen), he was most likely imbibing some Sprite at some point in the evening.

What I want to know is whether anyone put two and two together yet? I know the Devils seem to prefer the team over the individual; Brodeur is no mere individual. He's the cornerstone of this team and an active Devils legend. He's going to go down in history as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world of hockey. Yes, other players may be drinking Sprite while they play too and yes, Brodeur isn't a popular superstar outside of hockey or someone who will energize that crucial 18-25 demo; but come on. How can there not be any effort to see the marketing possibilities here? A living legend of the game drinks a carbonated beverage of his own volition when he's performing at the highest level of his craft! Surely, it cannot be too difficult to let the fine makers of Sprite know about this and talk about making him a spokesman of sorts. He's been supporting the product for years as it is; it's not like Brodeur would be lying about his pre-game and in-game soft drink choice.

Now, for all I know, maybe efforts were made and they never worked out. Fine. But if we want to see the Devils to get more popular, it couldn't kill the organization to try and promote their most important player at the forefront. Brodeur doing a spot for CCM back in 2000 or this spot for TSN's Sportscentre (seriously, Sportscentre.) didn't cause any problems, why not encourage him to do more? Especially more local ads to endear him to the New Jersey audience? Maybe he may not want to (and if that's the case, that's certainly understandable) to do this sort of promotion, but he deserves more than, what, that one commercial about a Devil of a Sale for a car dealership in Ocean?

I'm not saying Brodeur has to jump into a basketball court in the hot sun or enjoy a refreshing Sprite along side a pool or a boat or a pool on a boat with Grant Hill. That would be cool, though. But I think for the Devils to get their name out there, they need to promote some of the players and a good way to do that is to have them do things like commercials. It gets their name out there - even if it's cheesy, shows off some of their personality - or lack thereof, and it's a win-win for all involved if it's a good ad (or, well, a Youtube highlight). More people recognize the player, more people recognize what's being sold. If not Brodeur, why not Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, or John Madden or some other well-to-do Devil? It's not the end-all, be-all way to get more people aware of the Devils of New Jersey; but it would definitely be a step forward. And it's hard to plant seeds for growth if you don't even try throwing them.

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See, here's the weird thing. Sprite has no caffine. Even regular sprite. None. So it shouldn't pick anyone up. The only thing it should do is sort of quench some thirst. So his rationale for drinking Sprite is completly psychosomatic.

Now, that would be something to study.

That being said, I thought the Brodeur book was poor. All my reasonings are listed on an amazon review I wrote about a year ago.
I totally agree with all your resaonings about why Marty should get out and do more advertising, but frankly, one of the things I've loved about the Devils, one of the reasons they're my favorite team, is because the team always, always, always comes first. It is never, ever about the individual. I think that's fantastic. I know it doesn't bring new fans in, but I think it speaks to the Devils organization's old school, no-nonsense "we're here to win" mentality. I'd much rather know that the team isn't giving into the modern sports scene's infatuation with star power, and is instead walking the walk after talking the talk about not putting any one player above the team. And while I obviously don't know Marty personally, I get the distinct impression that the fact that he can play for a winning team without dealing with the nonsense that goes along with promoting a star player is one of the many reasons Marty's stayed loyal to the organization.

Does it drive me nuts that the NHL itself never promotes Marty, the greatest goalie to ever play the game? Hell yeah! But I'm just as happy not to see him in national Sprite ads, as hilarious as that would be. OK, maybe I'd like to see just one ad, once. Because the hilarity would be pretty extreme... :D
Pookie, you just raised a rather important point - and, in a way, an obstacle - as to why the Devils don't market more aggressively. I may write on it more in depth later; but it's possible to do both. Even the die-hard fans have to recognize that certain players - Brodeur, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias - will draw more attention than others. And it makes little sense to not have them in the forefront representing the team.
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