The local TV schedule was released yesterday, following last weeks announcement of the national TV schedule. I noticed that only one of the games will be on Comcast Sportsnet, and two on The Comcast Network. That leaves 5 games without TV coverage. I know all 8 games will be on the radio, but it’s not the same. Baseball and football work well on radio because those sports have a lot of starting and stopping. Hockey, a real man’s sport, is much more free flowing, and just listening to play by play simply doesn’t do it justice.
It’s not that preseason hockey is so great and that I can’t stand missing games as if they counted. I like to see the different line combinations, I like to see the players trying to make the team, and I like to somewhat get a feel for how the veterans look. In contrast to preseason football, a preseason hockey game is actually pretty fun. There’s no such thing as vanilla offense, every guy (veteran or rookie) busts his ass on every shift, and the pace is pretty close to how it will be in the regular season.
Unfortunately, ratings are the most important factor in what to put on television. And I know a lot of people don’t pay attention to hockey until football season ends and the NHL playoff push begins. Still, hockey is a major sport, with a large enough following, especially in this city. I think this is a missed opportunity for the Flyers and the NHL. Hockey trails other pro sports in TV ratings, and I think it’s because they do things ass backwards sometimes. With the NFL facing a potential lockout, the NBA becoming more and more boring, and MLB offering a completely different product, it’s the right time for the NHL to take a step forward and claim the limelight.
A problem that the NHL has with gaining exposure is that new fans have a hard time learning a new game with a bunch of confusing rules. The preseason is a perfect time to drum up some interest! Advertise it, get some people interested, and during the telecast, take the time to teach the game a bit. Don’t make it like an instructional video, nobody wants to see that. But do something to bring people on board so that they can enjoy the game.
My main point is that I want more preseason on TV so I can get a better feel for the team, and the NHL can benefit by drawing in new fans.
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