2018 Hall of Fame Inductee Martin Brodeur is returning to the New Jersey Devils as the club’s EVP of Business Development. The 4x Vezina Trophy winner won’t be tasked with player personnel decisions during this homecoming though. He’s back to work under Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and NJ Devils President Hugh Weber on the business side of the organization. JohnWallStreet had the chance to sit down with the 9x All-Star on Wednesday afternoon for an extended interview. In part 2 of 2 (link to part 1), we talked about Taylor Hall’s responsibility to the organization, plans to grow the Devils brand in Europe and comparisons to the New York Rangers.
JWS: In part 1, you spoke about how social media is critical to growing players’ personal brands, but that not everyone wants to put in the effort. I would imagine at least some of the players choose not to use social media because they shy away from the spotlight off the ice. Does NHL MVP Taylor Hall want the attention?
Martin: I can’t tell you that. I haven’t dug deep enough to know that yet, but he’s important to our franchise so he’s got a responsibility (to do promotional work) towards us just as we do (to promote him) towards him.
JWS: You also hit on the importance of growing the Devils brand internationally. How can the franchise go about doing that?
Martin: I spent some time this summer in Switzerland, Finland, Denmark – places you wouldn’t think that hockey was popular, but seeing the way the players and teams were treated there, you see and appreciate the place hockey has in the hearts of the fans. The knowledge that the European fans have about the game and the NHL players is impressive. Frederik Anderson, the goalie for Toronto Maple Leafs, he’s a God over there; everybody wore Maple Leafs stuff with their Danish stuff. Yes, we’re the Devils, but it’s Nico Hischier in Switzerland. It only takes one or two players from their country to play in the NHL and suddenly the entire country is full of NHL fans. I think there is a big opportunity, a big market to be tapped there. We’re going to play an exhibition game in Switzerland and a regular season game in Sweden,and we’ll work with the NHL to find different avenues to grow our brand in that part of the world.
JWS: The Devils missed 5 straight post-seasons between 2012-2013 and 2016-2017 and the club hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 2003. How do the Devils build the next generation of fans without the benefit of the 3 Cups the franchise built the previous generation on?
Martin: I haven’t been here for four years, so it’s something I need to look at, but when I played in New Jersey three of my kids played minor hockey; you don’t understand how many rinks I went to. There was never anything Devils-branded anywhere, it was Rangers stuff. There’s a commitment to be made if you want to these young players to be brought up as Devils fans and not fans of our rivals.
JWS: Speaking of the Rangers, when the Devils measure growth or success, is it relative to the Rangers? Team history? The league average?
Martin: You can’t compare yourself to your rivals. Their level of success is hard to achieve. You’d love to get there, but the New York Rangers, they’ve been here forever; you must understand that. I think you focus on growing from within rather than thinking we need to bypass another team to be successful.
Howie Long-Short: NHL teams will experience a boost in revenue next season as the league has permitted the sale of 4 new in-ice advertising positions, located in the corners. The addition is particularly noteworthy considering it’s the first time the league has added inventory, inside the rink, this millennium. It’s been estimated that each of the advertisers can expect to receive 20-25 minutes of exposure per game. I checked in with the Devils and was told the new in-ice advertising positions are being sold in packages and partnerships that cost “in seven figures.”
Fan Marino: Will you have any input whatsoever on scouting, free agency, player personnel?
Martin: No, not as of now. That’s not the plan. That’s not what I was brought in for. Ray (Shero) and the front office has done such a great job over the last four years. They have their team and they’re rolling. I don’t see the need for me to be part of it. Of course, I’m part of the organization now and they’re friends of mine – I’m sure we’ll have some conversations. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment is a massive organization, and growing really fast, I have plenty of sports properties to learn about, and plenty of strong executives to learn from.
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