Hi, I’m Mika Zibanejad©

There was a time when young, driven hockey players focused solely on expanding their hockey repertoire at the expense of all other activities. Well that was then, and this is 2011.


There was a time when young, driven hockey players focused solely on expanding their hockey repertoire at the expense of all other activities. Well that was then, and this is 2011. Young athletes are much more web, tech and celebrity-savvy than ever before, which means building a personal brand can be just as important as building physical strength.

Don’t believe me? Look at Paul Bissonnette, a marginal tough guy on an irrelevant hockey team in the desert if not for his prodigious Twitter talents. As of this moment, @BizNasty2point0 had 136,572 followers, or 77,272 more than the Anaheim Ducks’ Bobby Ryan (@b_ryan9), who is himself pretty entertaining and can actually, you know, play the game of hockey.

But there you have it. Bissonnette is a prodigious self-promoter, and it paid off with a recent gig on TSN’s hockey panel. Perhaps when he’s done throwing punches for a living, he’ll slide into a career in broadcasting.

Brand-building goes beyond simple Twitter accounts now, however. You need a web site, a Facebook page and even a personal logo. Just this year, “Jonathan Toews Enterprises, Inc.” registered this design with the Canadian trade mark office

So they’re starting young now. Want to get to know the real Mika Zibanejad, who was just drafted into the NHL this past summer by the Ottawa Senators? Why, here’s his web site.

The site includes headlines, photo galleries and even a few personal YouTube videos.

Sure we know all that already, but there are some tidbits for the superfans out there. Did you know, for example, that Mika scored nine points in six games for Stockholm 1 of the Rickspucken in 2008-2009? Did you also know that his favourite television show is “How I Met Your Mother” starring the delightful Doogie Howser? One chilling fact I didn’t know: Zibanejad was drafted by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL before deciding to stay and play in Sweden.

The thing is, these sites work if you’re trying to get your name and face out there. Look, I just wrote a blog post about one.

But how long will this work for? Maybe not much longer. The more young players who put resources into their own brands, the less of a novelty it’ll become, and the less people will pay attention to it.

And what about the sites attached to players who don’t make it in the big leagues? Ever heard of GeoCities?

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