Christmas continues to bear down on anyone who has not finished their mandatory shopping bonanza. Those of us that procrastinate the holidays end up in the mad dash to finish line. The several hours spent looking for the perfect candle scent for Aunt June or action figure for nephew Steve severely dampen the amount of time available for hockey. As I’ve now completed my own personal Holiday (read: Christmas) shopping, I’ve taken a few moments to reflect on what I want. No more worries about who all wants what. I’m sure Santa is a fan of The Hockey Writers; so Santa, here’s the 5 things I want for Christmas.
4 games at a time option for Directv Center Ice
The lack of a multi game channel blew me away when I signed up for the Center Ice package with Directv. For those that are unfamiliar here’s a quick recap. The Directv satellite tv service offers all sorts of sports related programming. If you’re reading The Hockey Writers, you probably know what I’m talking about. For X amount of dollars, fans of different sports get to watch out of televised market games. I’ve seen both the Sunday ticket (NFL) and Extra Innings (MLB) packages in all their glory. Both have a channel that’s dedicated to showing 8 games at a time. Additionally, both packages come with the availability to flip between those games to decide which audio you’d prefer to listen to. What options come with the NHL package? A stats channel. A stats channel?? Granted a hockey puck is a tad smaller, and isn’t conducive to 8 games at a time, so I’m requesting 4 games. Split my tv into 4 quadrants and give me hockey sensory overload. There’s no reason for hockey fans to be deprived of the same insanity other league sports fans get to endure trying to watch multiple games at the same time.
Healthy & Productive Sidney Crosby
Hockey craves the “big star”. I’m not talking about the ones that actual hockey fans know about. I’m talking about the star that breaks down all the media walls and transcends the sport. For example, ever ask anyone who doesn’t watch hockey to name someone from the NHL? I hear 2 answers consistently. One is Wayne Gretzky. The other tends to be some variation of: Sidney Crosby or “that kid in Pittsburgh”. Fan allegiance aside, Sidney Crosby is one of, if not the biggest star of the league. I’m not debating the merits of whether he should be, that’s the fact. The brighter his star shines, the more exposure the NHL receives. I wish no player on any team harm, however I truly hope Crosby recovers fully and explodes on every team in the league. It’s one of the best things that can happen for the National Hockey League.
An all Original Six Final 4
All this talk of realignment is going to once again shake up the cosmetic look of the NHL. Many fine writers, including some of my colleagues at The Hockey Writers have opined on the topic better than I can. Change is going to happen. As someone who is resistant to change, I need a safety blanket to get me through. The best safety blanket (anti change) I can think is for only Original six teams to be in the Conference Championships come playoff time. Not only do the six teams each have great fan bases, but the storied histories of the teams make for compelling hockey. As of now, an Eastern Conference final of Boston, Toronto and the Rangers are making my wish quite possible. On the Western Conference side Chicago and Detroit are doing their share to keep hope alive.
ESPN Television Contract
I should start here by admitting my ignorance as to worldly television programming. I’m writing about USA broadcasting. The US has, as mainstays for national hockey broadcasts, the Versus network and the NHL network. NBC has a game of the week, but one game a week doesn’t do much for a hockey fan. While both Versus and the NHL network do a fine job of broadcasting the product, they are limited as to the number of homes they’re shown in. ESPN, and its family of networks would do wonders to expose hockey to millions of potential new fans. Being on ESPN would also give the network added incentive to discuss the sport more often. Hockey is often used as filler and limited in the amount of time and analysis. ESPN tends to do a tremendous job of promoting their own programming and having that “machine” behind the NHL would be a huge lift.
Safe & Prosperous Year for All
It’s the Holidays and to all: colleagues, readers, hockey fans, hockey players, owners, friends, family, and strangers I wish you a safe and Happy Holidays. I hope everyone has a healthy and prosperous 2012. Enjoy the time you spend with your family and friends. May all your lamps be lit and dreams come true.