Thursday, November 1, 2012

If you haven’t noticed, hockey game programs in magazine format are all but a thing of the past.
That’s really too bad, but it’s simply a sign of the times.
A lot of WHL teams now post programs and lineups, in one form or another, on their
websites on game days. Fans are able to go online and read them or print them.
At a glance, none are any better than the one produced and posted by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
If you’re a Thunderbirds fan, you will want to be checking this out on game days; if you’re not in Seattle, well, it’s worth looking at anyway. And it’s available on game days at
The program also is downloadable via iPhone, Android or Blackberry at games, so you are able to read it that way during a game.
“All of the corporate partners ads are clickable and will direct the user to the website of the corporate partner,” notes Ian Henry, the Thunderbirds’ media and public relations director.
The package also includes statistics and standings, game notes from that night’s two teams, and player profiles using the question-and-answer format. The content of the Q-and-A sessions will change every month, with anything statistically related changing every game.
“Having a digital program means we are not going to be selling paper programs at our games,” Henry said, adding that the digital program also is being promoted through the use of a  QR code.
He then explained: “We are going to have seat stuffers that we put in the seat cup holders that have a QR code on it that we want fans to scan with their mobile device to take them to the digital program page. All of our sales/information tables will have the QR code so that our Account Executives can tell fans what they need to do to get the free program.
“We will have the QR codes on posters on the walls of ShoWare Center where fans can walk up and scan the code.
“We have also made the digital program a customizable option on the T-Birds mobile app. When a fan downloads the app to their phone there are initial default settings. If the user chooses to customize the app they can pick the digital program as an option that shows when they open the app. This option will take them right to the digital program page where they can click on the link for the program PDF.”
Switching to a digital program also means that teams are able to drive traffic to their websites. The digital program is done using UberFlip and that process “tracks how many views, link clicks, downloads and social shares each program has,” Henry said. “This means we have hard data we can provide to our corporate partners that we can show them. We can them how they benefit from a partnership with us.”
UberFlip also provides another neat bit of information.
Again, Henry explains: “UberFlip tracks ‘zoom points.’ On the backend, a little green dot is shown for each spot on the page where a user touched the screen to zoom on the page. This is a very intriguing tool for us to show our partners. We can show them exactly where a user touched their ad. And we can work with them to make their ad as effective as possible with the user so they maximize their relationships with us. Several of our corporate partners are involved with us beyond just the digital program. So this strengthens our relationships with them as well, which is good.”
Back in the day, one person in a hockey team’s office would handle the program, contacting a writer or two about providing copy. Stories and statistics, if any, might be changed once a month. If a program included player mugshots, someone who had been traded away might be shown for a few weeks before changes were made.
Now something like that can be changed at any time.
The Thunderbirds’ digital program came about through a collaboration that involved graphic designer/creative director Brian Eldridge, Jason Thomsen, the director of corporate partnerships, vice-president Colin Campbell and Henry.
F Ryan Kinasewich (Medicine Hat, Tri-City, 1998-2004) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Milano Rossoblu (Italy, Serie A). He had four goals and seven assists in 14 games with Red
Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga) earlier this season before being released by mutual agreement from Red Bull on Friday.
Dale Earnhardt returns to NASCAR this weekend have taking time away due to post-concussion syndrome. In an Associated Press story, Earnhardt admits he was a “mess” after suffering a second concussion in a matter of weeks. And what has he learned from all of this? “"I’m definitely going to be honest with myself and honest with the doctors," he said. "I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do. I want to be able to live a full life and not have any issues down the road." . . . That story is right here.
The Vancouver Giants became the first WHL team to cry ‘uncle’ this season as they did what most observers expected them to do and dealt D David Musil, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday.
Musil, the son of former NHLer Frantisek Musil, was swapped for D Mason Geertsen, 17, and a 2013 first-round bantam draft pick. Losing that draft pick won’t hurt Edmonton as, in all probability, it will be a late first-round selection and the Oil Kings right now hold two seconds — their own and one they acquired from the Portland Winterhawks in the middle of last season for the rights to Cam Reid.
The Giants originally acquired Musil from Kootenay for a first-round bantam draft pick after the Ice got his rights in a secret draft, the details of which never have been made public by the WHL. Interestingly, the WHL Guide states that Musil was a list player with Vancouver.
The Giants, who are on a five-game road trip, are 4-10-0 and in the Western Conference cellar. They are to play the Tigers in Medicine Hat tonight and should have the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Geertsen, who is from Rocky Rapids, Alta., in their lineup. (Rocky Rapids is in the Drayton Valley area.)
Musil, from Delta, B.C., was a second-round selection, 31st overall, by the Oilers in the NHL’s 2011 draft. The Oilers’ parent company, Rexall Sports, also owns the Oil Kings. Which is why there has been so much speculation surrounding Musil’s immediate future since the Giants started so poorly.
Musil, who should play for the Czech Republic at the world junior tournament, had 27 points and 104 penalty minutes in 59 games last season. This season, he has eight points and 18 penalty minutes in 14 games. In 206 career games, he has 92 points and 270 penalty minutes. He arrived in Edmonton late Wednesday night. The Oil Kings next play Friday against the Raiders in Prince Albert.
Geertsen, the 18th overall selection in the 2010 bantam draft, missed some time with a concussion last season. He had three assists and 70 penalty minutes in 34 games last season. This season, he has four assists and 32 penalty minutes in 15 games.
The Oil Kings have three other Oilers’ draft picks on their roster — D Martin Gernat 122nd, 2011), F Travis Ewanyk (74th, 2011) and F Mitchell Moroz (32nd, 2012). (In fact, the Oilers have four draft picks in the WHL and all four now are with the Oil Kings.)
Gernat, who had 55 points in 60 games last season, has had shoulder surgery and may not return until early in the new year. Getting him back then will be like the Oil Kings making a deal at the Jan. 10 trade deadline and not losing anything off their roster.
Just for fun, I have added a poll to the blog. I will try to make this a regular feature, but remember it's just for fun. The first question pertains to Wednesday's trade between the Oil Kings and Giants. While I realize that no one will know for some time just who won this trade — maybe both teams win Memorial Cups over the next two or three seasons and it's a sawoff — what do you think? Give it your best shot and vote in the poll that is located over there on the right near the top of the page.
The Prince Albert Raiders are working to trade D Shayne Gwinner, 18, who has gone home to Drumheller to await a move. Gwinner played in nine of the club’s 16 games, with a goal and four penalty minutes. . . . “It just wasn’t working out,” Bruno Campese, the Raiders’ GM, told Perry Bergson of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. “There were expectations for him and it hasn’t been happening. He’s been in and out of the lineup and it’s something we didn’t see getting any better anytime soon with the guys ahead of him playing well. In his best interests, and the team’s because it becomes difficult, the decision was made to send him home.” . . . The Raiders acquired Gwinner from the Moose Jaw Warriors on July 6. It cost them two bantam draft picks -- a fourth-rounder in 2013 and a sixth in 2014. . . . Gwinner’s departure leaves the Raiders with 22 players, including seven defencemen and 13 forwards.
The Portland Winterhawks erased a 1-0 deficit with three goals in less than seven minutes in the second period and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . With the Los Angeles Lakers playing the Trail Blazers in the latter’s home-opener at the Rose Garden, attendance for the hockey game at Veterans Memorial Coliseum was 2,204. . . . Portland (10-3-1) now has won five straight games. . . . Portland next players Friday and Saturday nights when the Victoria Royals are in town for a double-dip.

From Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) of Yahoo! Sports: “The only way this #CHLPA story could get any weirder is if aliens were involved. Real outer space aliens. #CoastToCoastAM”

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