NHL, NBC fail with Hockey Day in America

Brad Gicopoulos

Instead of showcasing the great game of hockey through nine hours of fast-paced action, Hockey Day in America turned into a network failure.

The new NBC Sports Network that took the place of what was previously known as Versus had three hockey games all starting between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. last Sunday, Feb. 19. The viewers were able to watch whichever game was within their national network, which basically means the game you are closest to is the one broadcasted for you.

For someone like me, who pays more than $150 a year for NHL Center Ice to be able to watch every game all season, this day was terrible. Ten games were on throughout the day, but they were all blacked out in the area and only games on NBC Sports Network were televised. Instead of the NHL and NBC communicating and making the schedule more coordinated so Americans could enjoy three hockey games in a row, they decided to show them all at the same time.

The fairly new Hockey Day in America, which resembles Hockey Day in Canada only by name, did not live up to its neighboring nation’s presentation. Canada’s day to showcase the greatest sport was well planned and executed to perfection.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, the first game showed a battle between Edmonton and Ottawa. This game featured two of the nation’s biggest rivals at center stage. At the same time, Winnipeg played Pittsburgh, but this game was not shown as it was in Pittsburgh.

The next game was at 8 p.m. in Canada’s biggest fan base, Toronto, as they took on the Montreal Canadians in a battle for a playoff spot. Following this game at 10 p.m., Calgary hosted Vancouver in a heated divisional battle.

Fans had the chance to watch all the games on TV and the network was able to cash in as well. NBC did show all the games on their website, but why would I want to watch the fuzzy feed they provide on my 20-inch computer screen when there is a perfectly clear 50-inch plasma TV sitting in front of me?

This was merely one day out of the entire NHL schedule where I was not able to watch as much hockey as I could possibly handle. Although it was only one day, it was Hockey Day in America: the one day the whole country should have been able to enjoy the sport to the maximum.

Next year, maybe the NHL can talk with the network that provides more than 200 games a year to space out the games a little more.

Instead of showing Montreal-New Jersey as the late game – a game nobody cares about – put an intense divisional and possible playoff matchup like Chicago-St.Louis in that late spot.

The reason Canada continues to be ahead in hockey is they not only produce an abundance of superstar players, they also market the game the right way.

So, for this one day that may be minimal on the large calendar of games, I could have saved $175 and just watched the game between Detroit and San Jose that would be televised on FSN Detroit anyway.