Cheerleaders not part of Oilers world

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi have stolen many of the headlines for the Edmonton Oilers during the early stages of the 2010-11 season, sending Oiler fans into a buzz, but there was one recent announcement that has also hit centre ice at Rexall Place.

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi have stolen many of the headlines for the Edmonton Oilers during the early stages of the 2010-11 season, sending Oiler fans into a buzz, but there was one recent announcement that has also hit centre ice at Rexall Place.

With Oilers President and CEO Patrick Laforge announcing the Oilers plans to be Canada’s first NHL franchise to have its own cheerleading team, it’s certainly brought it’s own share of headlines and controversy.

Some people love it, some people hate it. but my personal opinion is simple.

Give me an L, give me an A, give me an M, give me an E.

Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but since the lockout, the Oilers have never had an issue selling out hockey games. They proved that with over 200 straight sellouts and with their young guns and future leaders making their mark in their rookie seasons, there hasn’t been this much talk about the Oilers’ bright future since the glory years.

I realize that 23 of the 24 NHL markets in the U.S. have their own cheerleaders. But if that’s their way of selling our game across the border, they can keep doing it, but frankly in many of the southern markets they are going to have to rethink their current marketing strategies, because it’s just not working.

I don’t even want to touch on the whole sexist angle, because those who are protesting against this for that reason must forget that many cheerleading squads have both men and women, and I’m not against what they do during their routines.

What they can perform takes strong athletic ability and hours of practice.

Cheerleaders just aren’t a part our game of hockey.

Oilers owner Daryl Katz has built himself quite the empire since he bought the team back in 2008. Under the Oilers umbrella, he also has the Western Hockey League’s Oil Kings, as well as the Golden Baseball League’s Edmonton Capitals.

While the Oilers have been a huge marketing machine the last several years, the Oil Kings and Capitals have struggled to maintain a strong following when it comes to the Edmonton sports scene that is clearly dominated by the Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos.

Maybe they need to find a better marketing strategy for both the Oil Kings and Capitals, rather than add some meaningless form of entertainment to Oilers games?

As a fan, when you’re exposed to the Oilers brand everywhere, their culture is thriving better than ever.

Cheerleaders aren’t part of the game of hockey, like it is with football in the U.S. where the game and the cheer squads almost go hand-in-hand. Hockey is about the professionalism of the organization. The suit and ties for players, not like the bling-bling of the NFL and NBA.

The Edmonton Rush professional lacrosse team has cheerleaders, and for a sport like lacrosse that isn’t as mainstream in Canada like the game of hockey, if they need to bring in a cheer team to put butts in the seats, I’m all for it.

If teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes feel they need to bring in cheerleaders to enhance the fans’ game night experience, go right ahead, but it’s not a necessity for any NHL market in Canada.

Many Canadian hockey fans make fun of the U.S. markets for some of their marketing strategies they’ve tried to bring in over the years. Hockey nuts feel many of the U.S. markets have brought a mockery to the game.

The Oilers have always prided themselves on being the leaders when it comes to marketing strategies and ideas, but I just don’t see any of their Canadian counterparts following them with this idea.

The pom poms and dance routines can stay on the other side of the border.

Jason Hills is an Edmonton-area freelance writer whose column appears every second Wednesday in the Advocate.

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