Marketing the NHL's young stars, minus Alexander Ovechkin

Kudos to Tim Arango of the New York Times, who managed to write over 800 words on the NHL's post-lockout turnaround and its marketing of stars without the word "Ovechkin" appearing once.

This is an accomplishment on the level of omitting "Spielberg" while writing a piece about directors who made films about dinosaurs, aliens and Oskar Schindler.

The Times story covers the $15 million ad campaign of Young & Rubicam, who created print and television spots around young stars like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Henrik Lundqvist and Dion Phaneuf.

Granted, there may be other factors at play here for Ovechkin's absence: Scheduling, money or other conflicts. And it's not like Ovechkin hasn't been marketed by the NHL -- have you seen the cover model for Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey this season?

That said, the Times quoted three different marketing suits who evidently never mentioned Ovechkin as a marketing asset for the League. The awesomely named Cliff Skeete of Young & Rubicam said that Crosby is the NHL's Jordan and Bird. Creative consultant Bruce Jacobson said Crosby is LeBron.

Look, this isn't another Crosby vs. Ovechkin, Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins throwdown. Give Sidney credit for saying that he feels a reasonability to market the league "but I have the good fortune of being in the league with other young guys." This is simply noting that in the New York Times print edition, in a story about the NHL's surge in popularity, the reigning MVP and scoring champion wasn't mentioned. Once.

And it's not just the Times: Brandweek's coverage of the ad campaign makes no mention either, although that story is much more about the ads and less about the NHL in general.

So the question becomes whether this is an oversight by the author, or do the Mad Men who market the sport to the masses feel Ovechkin's appeal is somehow limited by language or culture in a way that Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby are not?

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