Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Lisa McRitchie on 08/21/11 at 08:30 PM ET
The television schedule for the upcoming hockey season is slowly coming to together. While Oilers’ fans are excited about a second season free from pay per view games, they are not happy with the number of games featured on CBC. After all, it’s supposed to be hockey night in Canada, not hockey night in Eastern Canada.
The Edmonton Oilers will be featured on CBC for some games, but only 13 of the 82 game season. The Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames see the same treatment; the Canucks will have 14 games broadcast and the Flames have the lowest number of games on CBC out of all Canadian teams with 12.
The Winnipeg jets will have 21 games, the Ottawa Senators 19, the Toronto Maple Leafs 24 and the Montreal Canadiens 28 games on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, not exactly an even distribution. But, even the CBC is looking to make the most of their advertising dollars. In fact, I’m surprised that the company didn’t go after more Winnipeg jets games.
While many hockey fans would first turn to the CBC for these decisions and the lineup, the CBC of course says that the schedule is more due to the NHL’s schedule.
If we’re turning to the NHL schedulers I want to add another complaint. Looking at a map of North America, we can easily see that Edmonton, Alberta is clearly in Canada. It’s not a border town, there should be no mistaking where the city lands. Keeping that in mind, most people know that there are different statutory holidays in Canada and in the USA. One of those holidays is Thanksgiving. While Canadians get a 3 day weekend, a stat holiday on Monday, Americans get a four day holiday weekend in November. Canadians know that the American Thanksgiving is a big deal with football, family and black Friday.
So, considering all of these factors and especially that Americans and Canadians get different Thanksgiving weekends, why, why, why would the NHL schedule a 2pm Friday game during the American Thanksgiving that features a Canadian team such as the Edmonton Oilers against the Minnesota Wild? True, some fans work shift work, and some Oilers fans will appreciate this afternoon game, but most fans work during the day.
Of course my main concern is the team I write primarily about, but they are not the only ones in this situation this year, the Montreal Canadiens play the Philadelphia Flyers the same afternoon. I understand the NHL wanting to put their product on television in order to compete or complement the sports loving television viewers schedule, but would it not make sense to feature Canadian teams in evening games, American teams during the afternoon? Of course it would, at least to those who would like to watch a game with their friends or families on the weekends.
I recognize that scheduling 30 teams along with the building usage agreements would not be an easy task. Every November, the Edmonton Oilers must play a road trip while the Canadian Finals Rodeo makes use of Rexall Place. However, mid-day workday games are the exception not the rule, you would think that these would be a little better thought out. It is not only the fans that might be affected by these choices, but also the food and bar industries in Edmonton and Montreal. Venues that focus on sports fans will be missing out on Friday night revenues.
A city’s sports team is a large part of their economy, the NHL should see this, and they have had to deal with moving teams that could not sustain their teams at the time. To me, it would only make sense to schedule games in a way to maximize potential revenues for NHL cities while their teams’ play both home and away games. I hope that this does not become a running concern.
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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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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