I love hockey. In my very humble opinion, hockey is the best sport in the world. I could spend hours talking about it and debating the odds and ins of the game.
Beyond that, I could spend DAYS upon DAYS talking about how Gary Bettman has ruined the sport and what could be done to save my beloved National Hockey League.
Now, before you turn your internet browser around and navigate to safer waters, I promise you this won’t be a column about that. I simply don’t have the space, nor do you have the time or patience for such nonsense.
Besides, why start with fixing an entire league, when we can start with fixing something smaller, like its TV station for example?
That’s right ladies and germs— I’m talking about that mess of random games and bizarre countdown shows officially known as the NHL Network.
I’m not totally sure how I gained access to the NHL Network. One day it just happened.
Perhaps a fortuitous bolt of lightning struck my TV set, or maybe a vagabond wizard wandered through my neighborhood and decided to bestow this gift upon me.
Or possibly— in some dark and foreboding castle on a hill— mysterious beings known as Comcast cable executives voted to include it in my family’s subscription.
Who’s to say which one of these is correct, though if I was forced to guess, I would go with the vagabond wizard. It just seems the most likely scenario.
Truthfully though, it’s not important how I obtained it (obviously the wizard thing). What really matters is that I have it and have been a loyal viewer for roughly two weeks.
It didn’t take me long at all to realize that the station lacked a little something I like to call direction.
I mean, you can only watch “The Top 10 Montreal Canadians vs. Buffalo Sabres Playoff Games of the 90’s” so many times before you notice that.
For me that number was once, but you may be more patient than I.
Its not that I don’t enjoy watching highlights of the Canadians playing the Sabres over and over again— I’m not a monster after all— but I just feel as though there are better ways to fill prime programming slots.
In addition to its oddball top ten lists (“Top 10 Overtime Goals of the 2001 Playoffs,” anyone?) the Net also has a show about announcers, a show about captains, a clip show called “Classic Playoff Series” (I mean who doesn’t want to relive the historic Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues confrontations from the early 00’s?) and that’s about it.
Oh yeah and they are currently re-showing every game from last year’s playoffs. Somehow though all I keep seeing is Ducks vs. Red Wings. Also, I’ll get the occasional Caps/ Pens contest. Thrilling stuff, I assure you. It almost makes me forget that I just watched all those games a few months ago.
Unless you’re a Pens fan, there wasn’t that much from last year’s postseason worth re-watching.
So what to do with a 24-hour hockey channel that features very limited commercial interruptions?
Well for starters, lets mix up the games a bit. As of right now I don’t think the programmers of the NHL Network are aware that the league existed before the 90’s. Let’s get some historic games, featuring some of the league’s top moments and stars.
How about showing us Wayne Gretzky’s first goal? Or his first Stanley Cup win?
Even better, show every Cup-clinching game that you have video of. Who wouldn’t want to watch that kind of drama unfold? Sure it won’t be AS compelling as a Red Wings vs. Ducks game from earlier this year, but still.
Hey, training camps are just round the corner, so let’s see what’s going on there. I could see myself sitting down and watching a day in the life of Minnesota Wild training camp.
And would it kill you idiots to have a news show? And don’t try and tell me that it’s the off-season and thusly news is scarce. Yahoo Sports manages to update its hockey page at least once a day with blogs and rumors, why can’t the NHL Net do the same?
Incidentally, it was a Yahoo Sports blog that inspired me to write this column. I think it was Puck Daddy who wrote it, but I can’t be sure. Make sure you check it out though, as the man has some wonderful ideas, including a fantasy sports show, in addition to the aforementioned improved “classic games.”
Look, I don’t want to look a gift bearing wizard in the mouth, but honestly, what’s the point of having a TV station if you’re not going to do anything with it? NHL fans are some of the most loyal and passionate fans around, if you build them a network they will come.
So come on Bettman and company, give us a network worthy of the best fans on Earth.