Five Things We’d Like to See on NHL TV Coverage This Season

The NHL season looms large, with four games this Thursday, all on national TV in one of the league’s two home countries.  Here are some suggestions to help them along as we get stoked.

1. Contemporary Music for Cold Opens and Commercial Breaks

Check that out.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to see that done with NHL highlights and Emrick’s or Hughson’s voice talking about all the potential storylines that will come with the 09-10 campaign?  I know ESPN takes a lot of heat for this, but the NHL can combat this with actual good music that people want to hear.  We’re talking to you, CBC with it’s Nickelback.

Mike Emrick does some fantastic cold opens over generic tunes for MSG Plus.  Bob Costas used to do them quite well for NBC with basketball in the late 90’s.  Networks have been dropping them as of late.  The NHL should bring them back, and bring amazing music with them.

2. American Networks: Talk about the negatives once and a while.

Now, we know that NBC and VERSUS have such sweetheart deals with the league (Well, NBC does).  We also know that the NHL’s American studio commentators are creampuffs who will gladly dip themselves into a vat of acid before talking about something anywhere close to controversial.  Instead, they’ll just throw around dumb platitudes like “Brian Gionta is a proven 40-goal scorer”.

We challenge the NHL’s TV partners to start talking about Phoenix, talking about the troubles of the Blackhawks in the wake of their success.  Talk about it so the fans don’t have to turn to internet mouthpieces to shape their thinking on stuff that matters throughout the whole league.  Did I say internet?  I meant… er, nevermind.

3. More Games

My dad’s a fairly simple guy.  He likes all the ancillary programming on NHL Network for the most part.  But sometimes he just wishes they’d show a friggin’ game.  I agree here.  NHL Network televising only 4 more games than VERSUS throughout the first two months of the season is pretty unacceptable.

Since there seems to be time for the network to right this the rest of the way, here’s a tip: Bring back both games of the HNIC doubleheader.  Show any TSN game that doesn’t air on VERSUS exclusive nights.  Show all of their ancillary programming.  By showing off the best hockey coverage has to offer, more folks will take your own coverage seriously.

3. Please… No More Lower Screen Ads

We’re pretty ardent flip-floppers on whether or not we’re willing to defend VERSUS.  One of the reasons that definitely puts me on the side with all the torches and pitchforks is the fact that they feel they need to show ads for shows that no NHL fan will ever watch every six minutes.  TSN bugs it’s viewers with the ESPN-style bottom line every now and then.  Please cut this out, or do as NBC does (Taking hockey hints from NBC?) and keep it confined to your score bug.

4. Speaking of Score Bugs… VERSUS, Use the One for College Football and Not Your Weird One that Takes Up Too Much Space

Notice that nice, clean, compact, modern looking score bug in the corner?  Why VERSUS hasn’t let it’s far superior college football graphics folks working on NHL coverage has been beyond me.  All the networks should be aiming for something smaller, sleeker, and less-filling.

5. Finallly… Don’t Ever Listen to Hockey Fans

Or at least what you think “hockey fans” want.  According to Gary Bettman, “hockey fans” love the shootout.  [Seinfeldian Accent] Who are these hockey fans?

Don’t listen to anyone claiming to know hockey.  Anyone that willing to bring up the sport in conversation is a phony.  Talk to the bloggers, the diehards, the people who have swiped an illegal stream from the internet just to watch the games what you can do better.  Not some SportsCenter hockey fan, like Gary Bettman.

9 Responses to Five Things We’d Like to See on NHL TV Coverage This Season

  1. I agree whole-heartedly with 3, 3, 4, 5. Good list overall. I’d rather they spend more money on 3a then on 1, though.

    Of course, the list (and versus and the rest of the hockey world) could use more Jack Edwards, but I wouldn’t want to beat a dead horse too much…wait.

  2. Josh says:

    1 is too subjective, but I guess it’s a subjective list, eh? Say what you will about them, (and I am loathe to give anyone a reason to play Nickelback anywhere at anytime), but the fact is Nickelback can fill pretty much any Canadian arena at the drop of a hat. For reasons beyond me, people *really seem to like them*, so why wouldn’t CBC lean heavy on their dreck? Contrast that with your band of choice which seems to be playing in Winnipeg (just a for example, here) at something called the Garrick Centre, which, from what I can decipher online, is located inside a hotel.

    It’s like how the Leafs are the national game every Saturday night: they do bring in the numbers.

  3. leafsfan1967 says:

    Steve, can you find out from your sources if the opening night games in Canada on Thursday night will be on NHL Center Ice?

    Since those of us with DirecTV will be blacked out on Versus it sure would be nice to see some hockey that night…..

    • Chris says:

      I’m pretty sure it works the same as here in Canada. I have Centre Ice, and I get tomorrow night’s Versus games on Centre Ice. I’m sure you’ll get the HNIC games on your Center Ice.

  4. snovalleyhockeyfan says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the first #3. Get that HNIC doubleheader and whatever TSN games can fit into the schedule back on the air. The NHL network schedule is a good one, but it can use some improvement, especially for those fans who live on the West Coast and would like to see a game without having to go home early from work to do it.

    Another suggestion to add to this – all these games throughout the year that are in the afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays, especially after the football season ends (minus the NBC games), maybe Versus or NHLN should pick some of those games up as well.

  5. leafsfan1967 says:

    How on earth the NHL Network, which is run by the league, could have decided to not make the full HNIC package available boggles the mind.

    But then we are talking about the NHL who’s idea of getting involved in the Versus contract fight is just to pick Versus side rather than care for the fan base. I’m a hockey fan in spite of the NHL not because of the “brain trust” that is running this league into the ground…..

  6. ntb says:

    I, for one, do not want the NHL Network showing more games. In fact, I wisht they would show fewer games. However, this is purely for selfish reasons. I already pay for cable and Center Ice. I don’t want to have to shell out even more money for NHL Network, since it’s on the premium sports package for me.

  7. leafsfan1967 says:

    >>I don’t want to have to shell out even more money for NHL Network, since it’s on the premium sports package for me.

    That’s a fair comment. I’m thankful that DirecTV includes the NHL Network as part of the NHLCI Package. The first year it was on, they cut off access after the playoffs this year they left it on, which was a bonus….

  8. leafsfan1967 says:

    Here’s a press release from the NHL…..


    — Network Televising 77 Live Games, All In HD, 28 From CBC’s “Hockey Night In Canada” —

    — “On The Fly” Returns Oct. 1 With New Analysts Denis Potvin, Kevin Weekes, Pat Flatley —

    NEW YORK (September 30, 2009) – NHL Network™ U.S. drops the puck on the live 2009-10
    NHL® regular-season schedule Friday, Oct. 2, when captain Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup®
    Champion Pittsburgh Penguins raise a new banner to the Mellon Arena rafters before opening the season against the New York Rangers.

    The action continues the next day, Saturday, Oct. 3, as NHL Network
    U.S. presents a quadruple-header of live games. In all, NHL Network U.S. will televise 77 live games this season, all in HD, with live game action spread over multiple days a week throughout the regular season.

    NHL Network’s flagship show, “NHL On The Fly” will begin one hour earlier this season, 8 p.m.
    ET. Appearing nightly throughout the season starting Oct. 1, the program features up-to-the minute
    hockey information, live look-ins, extended highlights, overtime shootouts, real-time scores, interviews, pre- and post-game reports and news conferences. Hockey Hall of Famer Denis Potvin, along with NHL standouts Kevin Weekes and Pat Flatley, join the roster, which includes hosts Dan Pollard and Brian Duf f and expert analysis from a variety of NHL veterans, including former GM Craig Button, Hockey Hall of Famer Larry Murphy, Gary Green, Dave Reid and more.

    The schedule of live games in the U.S. focuses on games Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
    nights. Starting April 1, NHL Network rolls out a new feature – the April Playoff Push. Eight games in 11 days highlight the final days of the regular-season as teams jockey for playoff position. Six “flex” games will guarantee viewers get the key matchups with playoff implications. Local blackouts will apply to all live games and game replays.

    For the second year in a row, NHL Network U.S. will feature acclaimed programming from CBC’s
    “Hockey Night In Canada” every Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m., ET. Fans in the U.S. will continue to
    see the 30-minute pre-game show “Hockey Tonight,” followed by an early game from the “HNIC”
    doubleheader including popular segments “Coach’s Corner” with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean and “The Hotstove.” On nights when the late “HNIC” game is not televised live on NHL Network U.S., the game ,along with “After Hours,” will be telecast on the network Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m., ET, on tape-delay.

    The “HNIC” games not televised live on NHL Network U.S. will be available on NHL® Center Ice® and
    NHL GameCenter Live,™ the NHL’s digital subscription programming packages.

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