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Looking At The NHL Network

from Steve Lepore at Awful Announcing,

Every year, hockey fans have complained about the network's weak aesthetic look, lack of substantial analysis, poor coverage of huge news stories (i.e. the entire NHL lockout) and overall dearth of original ideas. If I'm flipping around channels, I would probably rather click on NFL Network, MLB Network or NBA TV. And I'm someone who would rather watch bad hockey television than good anything else. This is a problem.

In the spirit of Festivus, I figured the end of the year might be an appropriate time to air some of the grievances that I and many hockey fans league-wide have with the league's in-house network, and perhaps some ideas that can be used to fix them.


MLB Network's MLB Tonight is probably the best "live look-in" style show, in part because they mix in the chatter with getting you live to the actual important moments that the average fan would want to see. Despite not being in the vein of NFL Red Zone, they still will have you watching the key moments when you want to see them. Potential no hitters, bases loaded situations, even just showing you the end of games.

read on

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, NHL Network, | KK Hockey | Permalink


NHLJeff's avatar

Great post. I hope the NHL actually pays attention to his points.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 12/26/13 at 11:17 AM ET


well , its 2013 and the NHL channel isnt carried in high definition format by BELL satellite t.v up here in canada yet the NBA channel is (figure that one out )

Posted by butch on 12/26/13 at 11:41 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

In Canada, this station isn’t even in HD! (at least it wasn’t last year when I had it).
And the author’s right when he says the NHL channel is terrible visually compared to the other sports channels.
I love the MLB Network. It’s very visually pleasing.

But Number 4 “. A LACK OF REGULAR, ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING IN GENERAL” is what bothers me the most.

I remember a time when the NHL network had shows like “Living the Life” and a “Behind the Scenes” type shows.

The living the life followed players in the ECHL. It was awesome. Even my wife loved it.
The behind the scenes would follow NHL players for a few days.
The episode where they showed Shawn Bates, Mark Parrish and Eric Cairnes living together was awesome.
What happened to these?

After watching HBO’s 24/7, my wife said “I would watch all shows like this regardless of the sport”.
In fact, we loved that program that followed the San Fran Giants around for a year.

Why won’t the NHL do more shows like this?

Posted by Hank1974 on 12/26/13 at 11:43 AM ET


I agree the NHL network is virtually unwatchable. The set is brutal, hosts are poor and it just recycles the same stuff over and over.

Posted by timbits on 12/26/13 at 12:16 PM ET

topshelf14's avatar

I watch nhl network practically every evening, but the writer is correct. The after the game arena cam interviews are always terrible and awkward. Not to mention they always talk over the highlights instead of allowing the actual announcers call the goals like they used.  I do enjoy when they have the new guy on the set and he LarryMurphys his way through the calls.

Posted by topshelf14 from Detroit, MI on 12/26/13 at 12:46 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

The NHL had to be careful with the lockout coverage. If they used the channel during contract negotiations to promote their talking points in an uncareful way (because they surely wouldn’t be promoting the players’ position), they might be guilty of an unfair labor practice. For that reason, I can understand their ignoring the biggest news in the sport at the time.

When I had the channel, it was fairly unwatchable. I don’t miss it.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/26/13 at 01:47 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

There are also many people who don’t get the NHL Network on any of their available options, and the NHL treats fans without the NHL Network the same way it treated fans without Versus—as if it’s simply expected that fans will pursue whatever option is necessary and whatever cost is necessary to receive the few hours’ worth of “must-watch” or “exclusive” programming NHLN doles out.

The NHL worked very hard to increase Versus’ distribution, but it does little to nothing to grow its network’s footprint.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/26/13 at 02:07 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

I used to love “On the Fly” but it has become unwatchable.  I hate the arena cam interviews.  They are so canned and I learn nothing from them.  This is a very spot on article.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 12/26/13 at 03:01 PM ET

SYF's avatar

NFL Films, esp. the ones from the early days of the NFL narrated by John Facenda, are THE best pro sports film productions ever.  Nobody makes that kind of quality programming anymore.  There is no reason the NHL can’t be equally stunning with all that history.

Posted by SYF from A tall cool pint of Guinness on 12/26/13 at 03:32 PM ET


I get the NHL Network as part of my Center Ice package. I live in Florida and depend on it for hockey highlights. Is it as good as it could be? No but is it good enough? Yes.  KT is great. Some of the TSN people are a little tiresome as is Hradek . The arena cam post-game interviews are okay. The evening highlights would be better if they had the RSN play-play call during the play rather than the talking head in the studio. I do like the pregame interviews on the arena cams with various RSN announcers and beat writers. The network could use some original programing. I would like to see some classic games broadcast. Hopefully when Rogers takes over there will be an upgrade at the NHL Network.

Posted by Puckbubba on 12/26/13 at 07:56 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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