Monday, March 17, 2008

To hype, or not to hype

Thinking aloud, what would you do with the Kyle Okposo issue if you were me and the rest of the PR/Marketing staff?

The facts: Kyle's a terrific kid and he's going to be an excellent player. He doesn't turn 20 until next month. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, selected after and before some young players already on the road to great careers.

More facts: the Islanders are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. With injuries to nearly half their regulars, it's time to see what some of the prospects can do. Kyle is at the top of that chart.

Logan in Newsday was right - this is the biggest debut for an Islanders-drafted player since DiPietro.

So again: what do you do? How do you draw the line between the perception of over-hyping a 19-year old and serving your die-hard fans with information?

We can agree to disagree, but I'll tell you what we did. Yesterday morning, posted the press release plus a story on Bridgeport coach Jack Capuano discussing Kyle's development in measured, not hyperventilating tones. Our partners at Islanders TV had one segment of King and Mears treating it as a news item, another featuring Ted Nolan's thoughts on the recall. Again, Ted didn't act like he was selling anything. In fact, the coach said he hadn't seen the kid play since prospect camp last summer.

Today will be round two. Jason Lockhart will have a story on the website on KO's first practice as an Islander. Kyle will likely do a phone interview this afternoon for the hockey fans who can never get enough on XM Radio. I'm certain ITV will have a bunch of first-class goodies, the kind of stuff you just don't see major professional sports franchises bring so directly to their fans.

To my mind, this is providing information on a positive story, not hype.

I guess the true test will come at gametime. If the Islanders really want to sell Kyle, I would imagine you will see a spotlight introduction, maybe even drop the kid from the scoreboard for the opening faceoff. You will see the "I'm Kyle Okposo and I'm an Islander" treatment, like last year when Ryan Smyth made his grand entrance.

But I wouldn't hold my breath. We know what Kyle is. We know where our team currently stands. I suspect anyone coming out to see Kyle Okposo make his NHL debut as an Islander tomorrow will not be disappointed in the kid's play. For the 10-15 minutes he'll likely be on the ice, Kyle will act like he belongs.

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