For those located in the United States, I believe we can all agree the media coverage of the NHL is quite lackluster.
Having visiting our northern brethren Canada many times, it is two different worlds. Just last year I was curling in Ottawa and was in between matches so a friend and I decided to go to the bar for a drink and some grub. After carefully selecting my seat to be for the next hour at the bar, I began looking around. To my right, jerseys and hockey pictures of great players and moments in time as decor. To my left, even more jerseys and hockey pictures of decor. My beer arrived, Labatt Blue, another sign. I ordered a burger, fries, I passed on the gravy, and as we waited for our food we talked it up with the bartender. No, the conversation did not have one mention of the NFL, or even the sissy fouls called in the NBA, instead we spoke about our home NHL teams, the teams worth watching, and of course our playoff predictions round by round in a projected seeding. Heck, the attractive waitress even threw in her two cents. I almost asked her to marry me on the spot but questioned how border patrol would respond to me answering their questions, “Yes Sir, I do have goods that I am bringing back in the U.S., a wife.”
Our two worlds, Canada and the USA, are very different not only from the passion from the fans, but most notably, the media coverage. This is very saddening as a die hard fan, but what can change to make things better, if not more bearable?
A few things, first starting with cable providers. AT&T, a sponsor of the NHL… does not even offer NHL Center Ice package. Kind of weird don’t you think, a sponsor of the NHL and not offering the hockey package? How many satisfied customers are going to swap cable providers to only find out that the hockey package is not offered?Think of the Field of Dreams moment here. If you provide it on the provider, they will watch.
Secondly, better T.V. coverage in bars. If MMA can penetrate the market to host big Saturday night events at local bars, hockey can do the same. Imagine the possibilities, “Hockey Saturdays” at Bar XYZ. All 12 big screens will be showing all the games that night. Bring down your fantasy pool and have a beer, all while talking trash.
And third hockey movement, a NFL lockout. Some people have it in the books that the NFL is guaranteed to have a lockout. One can only hope. NFL rookies get paid enormous salaries and the NFL is trying to crack down on it. If it does pan out, T.V. flooding the screen with basketball can only take you so far. Hockey would have to be picked up by ESPN. ABC would begin to battle with Versus for coverage and begin to show Monday Night Hockey.
The fourth and final begins with you the fan. Call into your cable providers and let them know you want the Center Ice package. Speak to your local bar and ask them to change the station to Versus for the hockey game every time you are in. Eventually sneak in that they need to show all the games and get the hockey package. And per your own decision, tell all your friends to stop watching the NFL and watch hockey instead. You really could work in a good argument. “You know friend, by watching the NFL, you support dog killers and rapist. Is that really what you stand for?”