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Monday, August 30, 2010

Change The Station

Out with the Old
For anyone who has ever tuned into the NHL Network on a regular basis, you'd know that it has very few things going for it.  Between endless reruns of Classic Games, NHL on the Fly (the Sportscenter of Hockey), and TOP 10s (Top 10 Zamboni Drivers being my favorite), there are few shining lights peeking through.  Shows such as NHL Live!, Off The Ice, and actual live NHL games (shocker) are the few standouts in the lineup filled with blah.  Those, and a general lack of Doc Emrick, Barry Melrose, and Pierre McGuire are the only things that keep me wading through the tedium every week.

According to an article posted over at Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski's blog, it seems all of that is about to change.  Charles Coplin, the former VP of NFL programming, will become the new VP of NHL content.  Coming with this change is the news that the NHL will take control of the network, formally run by CTV, a Canadian broadcast company, and give it its own high tech studio in Toronto.

The plan is to bring more hockey news and original programming to the network.  While this all sounds lovely on paper, and I am more than a little excited about the chance to watch hockey oriented programming that doesn't make me beat my head against the wall in an attempt to keep the trite slogans and braindead analysis out, I can't help but wonder how a league that fails at every level to properly promote itself to the public can hope to come up with original shows of any value to more than the casual viewer.

To date, if I weren't a hockey fan, and only watched NHL created tv ads, I would think that every game was some ugly Russian named Ovechkin playing against some snot-nosed, slightly effeminate, punk named Crosby.  Young stars like Stamkos, Stastny, and Toews are virtually non-existent outside of their home markets and hockey fanatics' fantasy pools.

In with the New
Another arena that the NHL has failed miserably in is radio.  Besides the aforementioned NHL Live!, NHL Home Ice on XM radio is a wasteland of mindless babble and breaking of arms as they try to pat each other on the back for being such great guys.  Very few interesting debates occur, and no one dares question the great and powerful Bettman.  The most controversial topic aired there is how one of their broadcasters has dared to dump the Leafs as his favorite team, and is now looking for a replacement.

So the long and short of it is, while this could very well be an indicator of the NHL moving forward in its marketing methods, I'll be sure not to hold my breath for too long for fear of lapsing into a coma and waking up years later to find that the Ugly Russian and the Effeminate Punk are still the only ones going at it.

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