I’m going to take this post in a different direction from the usual. Which is probably a good thing. Some of you have heard me bitch about this, but I wanted to post it anyway.
I’m a hockey fan. Love the sport. Had Idaho Steelheads season tickets for 4 years. Watched a good 3 or 4 games a week on The Worldwide Leader (ESPN), and the nights that they didn’t have a game they still had their wrap up show, NHL2Night. My fandom peaked in 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche completed the grueling task of capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Since then, like I said, the NHL and its forces are tried to kill me. First, came the entire locked out / cancelled season of 2005. No NHL. Summing that up, millionaires arguing with billionaires. Billionaires won. When they solved that thing last summer, I was very pleased. We were a few short weeks from the start of the season. I had worn out my tape of games 6 and 7 of the 2001 finals.
Then, the wheels started coming off. First, I get word that my Colorado Avalanche have moved from Fox Sports Northwest (where I used to have every game of theirs) to some channel called Altitude. No, my digital cable system doesn’t get it. I call my cable company every day for a week, and they pretty much tell me they have no plans to add it in the near future. *sigh* Ok, well surely ESPN will pick back up their rights to the NHL, right? The NHL would be crazy not to go with the most popular sports network on the planet, right? Short answer is they went to the ‘Outdoor Life Network’ OLN, which is available in a fraction of the homes that ESPN is. Sure, the NHL got more money from OLN, but you can’t tell me that the loss of exposure isn’t going to hurt them. I subscribe to every single channel my digital cable system offers, unfortunately, this means exactly squat. I won’t even go into my attempts in past years to get my cable system to carry the NHL Center Ice package… “we’re not offering it because there is not enough interest in your area…” I’ve tried every year for the past 5 to get them to offer it. No dice.
Here were my options. Option 1, NBC was going to show hockey. Great! When? Oh, 4 saturdays in January, one game a day, and then show one playoff game saturdays in April/May. Wow, I’ll try to contain my excitement.
Option 2. Go to a bar that is showing hockey and watch it there. Well, anyone who has watched a game in a bar knows it sucks. Especially hockey. You’re sitting probably 50 feet away from the tv, that the game relegated to (the smallest one in the place). You can’t even see the puck, and there is no sound. Besides, trying to find hockey on TV in a bar here is not easy.
Option 3. Dump digital cable, invest a bundle of cash, buy a satellite dish and multiple receivers with DVR’s in them, get someone to install it, and learn an all new channel lineup, all just to watch a few hockey games. Well, since I was married at the time, needless to say, the payoff wasn’t worth the investment. So that was a non-starter.
Long story longer, I have seen about a total of 9 periods of hockey this season. Total. Not even all from the same games, either. So, the playoffs started a few weeks ago, and I didn’t even have any idea who was in. I pretty much lost all connection to the sport. It gets very little coverage on SportsCenter, and you have to sit through 45 minutes of NBA highlights… Ugh. Not worth it.
I’m worried that I’m just not a hockey fan anymore. I want to be, but following the game online is not exactly optimal. I’ve read about how the game has changed with rule changes… faster, more scoring, more plays not so much clogging… I’ve yet to be able to really see it. Needless to say 2006 has not been a banner year for me so far… Sorry for the length of this.