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Building a Brand: The Ambitious City Edition

Feature image taken by Glen Cuthbert

Ever since the news leaked that the Belleville Bulls would be packed up and sent down the 401 to play under Michael Andlauer’s supervision, naysayers have been prognosticating the eventual failure of the latest Hamilton team in the Ontario Hockey League. Belleville’s long term beat writer Paul Svoboda of the Belleville Intelligencer has taken every opportunity possible to dig at the fact Hamilton has a troubled history when it comes to supporting major junior hockey. If you never read his article Welcome to Hamilton: Junior Hockey Graveyard (Source) you should bookmark it and be ready for the “I told you so” moment 10 years from now when we’re celebrating a great decade of hockey. He consistently fails to recognize that the modern OHL has one of the strongest hockey brands in the world.

I bring up Svoboda today because he wrote a nice little piece on veteran player Brody Morris. Again, he makes a little dig at the city’s past issues that required relocation. “Morris admitted the Bulldogs might be feeling some added pressure to make the playoffs since it’s their first season in Hamilton, a city that has failed miserably in the past as an OHL town” (Source). Really, he’s telling the truth, but I think we’ve come to a point where we can forget the ugly history and embrace what the organization has been building this season. Attendance has been steadily increasing, and leveled out to about where it was last year with the AHL numbers, which were given a huge boost by Maple Leafs/Marlies fans.

Bruiser unveiled the team’s new sweaters for next season, a black and gold look. (Photo: Barry Gray / The Hamilton Spectator).

Cast iron guarantee

Under Steve Staios’s leadership, this team has been doing a very good job getting out into the community and making it’s mark. Even after losing several key roster players from the Belleville Bulls, Staios promised that this team would be competitive and in the long term, sustainable. They developed a decent public relationship campaign that’s drawn interest from all major sports networks over the brand redesign. This team has a very strong owner in Michael Andlauer who is committed to ensuring that Hamilton remains a city that has a hockey organization.

Bulldogs Captain Justin Lemcke discussed the effect the players have one building the brand by interacting with the community on Tuesday. “It starts with the kids, and wanting them to come out to rink and telling their parents and I guess from there it just builds a bigger and bigger fan base. I think we’ve done a great job of that this year getting out into the community as much as possible and putting on our best behaviour”. Hockey is Canada’s sport and you have to imagine that there are young boys and girls watching this team who are being inspired to play and be leaders on and off the ice in the future. Lemcke was pretty humble when asked if he sees himself as that type of inspiration. “You never think about that kind of stuff now, but who knows the impact you can have on somebody. That’s why it’s so important to always be smiling and always treat everybody that comes up and asks for an autograph with as much respect as anybody else”.

It’s this type of off ice leadership that is going to make the Bulldogs organization a success in this city. No matter how many negative articles are published outside of this community, how many hits the team takes, playoffs or not, a success story is developing here.

The Hamilton Bulldogs kicked off March Break by holding an autograph signing at CF Lime Ridge on March 15. Photos by Glen Cuthbert Sports Action Photography.

Posted by Glen Cuthbert Sports Action Photography on Tuesday, 15 March 2016

About The Author

Krist Hayes

Krist is fan of the game of hockey that has been moonlighting as a blogger recently writing about the OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. Reckless since his days as a crease-crasher. Tweet him @kristhayes

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Reckless Restraint

A blog for fans of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League. Updates, reports & musings on the team, players, and prospects.

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