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September 16, 2008


Geoff Northcott

Wow Tomi, I think that's the first NHL post I've seen on a marketing blog!

Stevie Y surely was one of the best, and epitomized the selfless style of leadership that to my own admittedly biased eyes seems to exist in hockey moreso than any other sport. When his offense skills started to go in the later years he voluntarily shifted to 4th line and played a crucial role as a checking forward who could still turn the light red. Amazing for a guy who once put up 155 points in a season.

I'm looking for a business analogy there and could surely make one up, but I think that's just cool in it's own right.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Geoff


Well, you know you're talking with the father of the "Hockey Sticks" theory of how mobile revenues and mobile costs relate over time. One of the popular theories from my second book M-Profits.

Coming from Finland, of course I gotta be a hockey fan ha-ha, its the law :-)

I take it you're from Motown? or otherwise ended up a Wings fan..

A funny side story. I have few regrets in my life. But I agree with whoever it was who said you never regret trying and perhaps failing, you regret the times you decided not to make the attempt.

I developed a really cool, complex, and realistic fantasy league NHL game back when I was employed by OCSNY in New York City (we were a bunch of Rangers fans with one outcast Islanders supporter and another misguided Devils fan ha-ha). This was in 1993, so there were only a few mail-in or fax-in fantasy leagues, and this was a year before The Hockey News started its own fantasy league. Mine was FAR better, far more realistic, requiring weekly game play and just about all aspects of NHL hockey from the manager's trades to the coach's decisions of who to lace up to the game, to things like realistic playoffs, etc.

I ran it off a PC. We played the game within the company and it soon became so popular that we had many outsiders joining our little "Optimized Hockey League (OHL)" We even had a little Stanley Cup for the season winner and a banner for the winning team etc. We had a weekly newsletter and all.

It was awesome. And compared to any other hockey-based fantasy leagues that we found - we actually did do a market research of hockey related games - it was the best at the time.

So my boss offered me the chance to turn it into a commercial product. He (of course a die-hard Rangers fan too) was willing to invest in it, and do the marketing and take the risk.

And I thought with my best intentions, and felt, it was not efficient use of our company resources - while we were an internet company - we were not going to make big bucks out of an obscure NHL hockey game (which we felt at the time would need to be run via fax, email was so rare at the time) and turned the offer down.

Its one of my few regrets in my life. Why didn't I just accept the offer and go with it. I wouldn't care one bit (today) how badly it may have done in the real market, it would have been so cool to have been the author of an NHL-related game, even if it only sold a dozen copies, I'd proudly list it on my CV still today.. Such a shame..

Of course in 1994 we got the ultimate New Yorker hockey gift, when Messier broke the 54 year curse and brought us the Cup (similar to what Stevie Y did for Detroit). That made all NY area hockey fans happy for at least - well being New Yorkers - five minutes?

Hey, funny story - in my first fantasy league, I owned Fedorov and Shanahan (and my boss owned Yzerman and Lemieux, but I had Selanne in his rookie year ha-ha 76 goals........ oh, the memories)

Anyway, yeah, the moment I was reading that story at Textually or SMS news or wherever, and saw "Steve Yzerman" related to a news item about text messaging, I just KNEW that is the hockey guy, there cannot be another number 19. Not with that name.

One more tidbit. I met up with a Paul Coffey at some telecoms event, totally not related to the high scoring defenseman from EDM and PIT but the British telecoms exec did know that there was a famed hockey player sharing his name. It was a cool business card to have (for an NHL nut like me)..

Yeah.. Thanks for stopping by Geoff, and I thought that silly NHL story masquerading as a legitimate blog posting on this site, might touch some other fellow NHL fan..

Tomi :-)

Geoff Northcott

Hi Tomi,

Definitely should of gone for it! But that's the benefit of hindsight. Agree 100% with the idea that you only ultimately regret the chances and opportunities you don't take. Even if it doesn't work out you learn something, whereas if you don't do it you can only wonder. Trying to stretch this back to business for a second, I think this is one of the key things companies struggle with when creating innovation budgets, it's hard to put a value on the experience you gain and the opportunities it might create down the line when you invest in simply trying something promising and see where it goes.

I'm actually from Stevie Y's home province of British Columbia in Canada, so I remember the Rangers beating my Canucks in seven games in '94 with distinct heartache! Was a great series though.

Thanks for the stories and will look out for more thinly-veiled NHL references in the future!


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