Even for the seasoned NHL fan or broadcaster, the names Nikolai Zherdev, Ilya Kovalchuk and Miikka Kiprusoff present pronunciation obstacles.
Now imagine 5-year-olds stumbling, stammering and guessing their way through those tongue twisting names.
The concept of a child being selected to read off the names of the scratches before Dallas Stars home games is just one of many concepts being considered to lure fans back to the NHL.
The process of drawing the fans back to a product that was already classified as overpriced and has been damaged by the loss of the 2004-2005 season began in earnest Wednesday with the news of the lockout ending. The Stars are treating the 2005-2006 season much like when the franchise relocated to Texas in 1993-1994.
Be open to anything; be above nothing.
"If NASCAR hasn't shown everyone what you have to do, then that person isn't intelligent; they've made it so everyone in the world knows the driver's face," Stars executive vice president for sales and marketing Geoff Moore said.
"We have to re-connect with fans so they know the players."
Focus groups have told the Stars that fans are tired of high ticket prices, which the Stars hope they addressed Wednesday when they announced lower post-lockout prices. The Stars had been near the top of the league in ticket prices over the previous five seasons, and that was usually blamed on the team's high payroll. Even before the lockout, the Stars were struggling to sell out American Airlines Center. During the 2003-2004 season, their 238-game sellout streak ended and 19 of their 41 home games were not sellouts.
With a new salary cap of US$39 million, the Stars no longer will be able to use a high payroll as a crutch to explain high ticket prices. Stars owner Tom Hicks said the stability in payroll will mean stability in ticket prices.
For some, that isn't enough.
"Players gave back 24 percent of the current contracts, and now there is a salary cap," Fort Worth resident and Stars season ticket holder Drew Ruiz said. "There should have been [a greater ticket price] reduction."
Focus groups also said fans are annoyed with what they perceive as being too far removed from the players.
Thus, the Stars plan to hold more interactive events where fans can meet and speak with Bill Guerin or Marty Turco for more than the time it takes to sign an autograph.
"The only way you could get an autograph after a game was to know someone who knows someone," Moore said. "We used to have Fan Appreciation Day on the last game of the regular season. Why wait? We need to make it more about fan appreciation."
So the Stars will open all practices to the fans free of charge. Training camp, which likely will open around Sept. 12 or 13 in Frisco, also will be open to the fans, who can e xpect postgame autograph sessions, too.
As much as it might have inconvenienced players in the past, such activities will be part of a future the players say they need to embrace.
"I hope all those players that were the kind of guys who just showed up to the rink to play now realize there's a lot more to it," New York Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "You have to do more than just show up and play, collect a paycheck and go home. You have to do your part to sell the league and make it grow."
The Stars are likely to increase promotional giveaways of collectibles, revamp their Web site; they might select a fan each game to blow the goal horn and change in-game entertainment.
Teams might have to take even more drastic measures to lure back fans if attendance lags. Professional sports leagues have had work stoppages before, but the NHL is the first North American pro league to lose an entire season.