Monday, September 27, 2010

When Hockey Makes The Front Page : Guy LaFleur

By Jim Amodeo
September 25, 2010

It is a common sight during the baseball season to witness a steady stream of fans heading from Union Station to the Rogers Centre. On this particular day, the Toronto Blue Jays are playing the Baltimore Orioles. During their travels, most of the crowd coming from the east are sure to venture past the CN Tower - How could they miss it? At this point their journey took a strange twist.

A tent nestled at the base of the Tower contained a familiar face. "Is that" could be heard coming from those now stopping and milling around the open tent. In addition to seeing the game, they could tell their friends - "A funny thing happened on the way to the Rogers Centre, I ran into Guy LaFleur."

Yes baseball fans that was LaFleur sitting behind the table greeting one and all. He was in town to host a battery collection drive put on by Call 2 Recycle. Depending on how many kilograms of used batteries the public brought to the event, they would be given a prize. The bare minimum being a 4x6 photo and the max being a Montreal Canadiens jersey.

After receiving a prize one would proceed to have LaFleur autograph the item. The presence of a hockey legend brought the environmental issue of battery recycling front and centre. With this being a digital world we live in, the Call 2 Recycle message is best explained in this passage from their brochure:

 "Millions of batteries are purchased each year that contain heavy metals that can contaminate the environment or pile up in landfills. By reusing the valuable materials found in used batteries to develop new products, Call 2 Recycle helps reduce the need to harvest our precious and limited natural resources and conserve the environment in our own communities."

There is no question that without Guy LaFleur, this drive would have been a giant flop. It just seems to be the nature of the beast. The draw of meeting a famous hockey player, but having to do something to earn the privilege. Buckets of dead batteries were being hauled and kept from the local garbage dump. The wait time in line to secure an autograph was well over an hour.

Hats off to LaFleur! Although most likely a paid participant, his intention should not be called into question. How many athletes sign up just to do memorabilia shows? Or private signings with no fan access? Guy LaFleur is a shining example of how a household name can be part of a marketing strategy that results in goals being reached. To measure the potential impact of this drive, consider the fact 21,504 spectators took in the Blue Jays game. Also, there was an event being held at the Toronto Convention Centre which is a skip and a jump away from the CN Tower. Okay, not everyone stopped for an autograph, though many took the time to inquire or observe as to what was going on under the "big tent".

As for the baseball, the Jays won 5-4 with Lyle Overbay hitting a a walk off home run in the 11th inning. It was a come from behind victory after Baltimore took a 3-0 lead. So, the question has to asked - Did all the battery talk in the vicinity of the Rogers Centre, result in the Jays batteries getting a boost and the ultimate charge out of Overbay's bat?

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