NHL Network Has A Good Idea with Plays of the Week Show

NHL Network made a lot of changes this fall. Little tweaks to try and make everything a little bit better and more efficient. Combining signature shows NHL Live and NHL On the Fly into one block of original programming from 5 p.m. until at least 10 p.m. and as late as 1 a.m. on some nights on some nights was a great idea. Doing NHL On the Fly preview shows for all six divisions and the Premiere games gets NHL Network one step closer to a hockey version of MLB Networks 30 in 30. Getting Barry Melrose to pop in and out on various programs was another solid tweak to their various shows. The studio revamp in New York City, with another one coming when they launch out in Connecticut, was yet another.

However, there haven’t been anything really new in terms of programming from NHL Net that we haven’t seen before. That’s why it was nice to see – with not too much promotion from what I saw on the network this week – the launch of an NHL Network Plays of the Week show. Hosted by Kathryn Tappen (a solid addition for the channel) on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. ET, the show delivers exactly what it promises: the Top 10 hits, goals and saves from the prior week of NHL action in orderly fashion.

The show’s format works as such: In the first few segments, the top 10 goals, hits and saves count down from numbers 10 through two. Following a brief segment from new analyst Melrose from the ESPN studios, each of the #1 plays is showcased. Towards the end, you get a downright batty “look into the future” segment from EJ Hradek (I mean that in a good way) and overall, it is a decent way to spend a half hour of television if you enjoy hockey and all of the awesome things that the athletes who play it can do.

A couple of suggestions: Separate regular goals from shootout goals. Not to be “that guy who hates shootouts,” even if I am, but if the “goals” scored in shootouts don’t count in regular season play, why not just give the shootout goals their own segments. It seems like kind of a cheat that all the great plays that players are able to pull-off with 10-12 skaters on the ice have to be mixed in with a 1-on-1 goal. I say do a separate Top 5 shootout goals (since there aren’t always that many great shootout moves) and let the goals segment run with stuff that happens in the middle of 5-on-5 (or 5-on-4, 5-on-3, whatever) action.

Another one: if you’re going to have something as goofy as EJ Hradek’s “predicting the top play of next week” (in which Hradek actually sits in a dark room looking into a fake crystal ball) why not go full bore with that tone? Let the show be a bit wacky and madcap. Let it be loose, show some bloopers and mistakes. Heck, add sound effects even. I’m not saying go over the top, but hey, it’s 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening, the kids can watch it. Give them something funny and enjoyable instead of straightforward. Hockey players are like superheroes to kids, this show seems like an excellent opportunity to promote them as such (I think I may have spent too much time at New York Comic-Con this weekend). A weekly “NHL for kids” show in itself would be a great idea.

Overall, I liked what I saw out of the show. There’s a definite need for something like this to exist outside of seemingly interminable commercial runs during other programming. MLB Network has shows where they’ll count down hundreds of plays of the week, month, years. I hope NHL Network uses this to start rethinking it’s anthology countdown series (the Top 10’s, classic series, etc.) and really starts pumping out new stuff to fill up programming hours. This is a good start.

About Steve Lepore
Contact me at stevemlepore@gmail.com

One Response to NHL Network Has A Good Idea with Plays of the Week Show

  1. Fred says:

    Anyone catch the NBC signs on the player benches in toronto? Sure leafs were oh so happy to be told to replace what they had for tonights game n help their USA tv carrier for NHL coverage. Lol

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