As the 2011-12 NHL season begins on Thursday night, so starts another year of NHL Center Ice, the television subscription package that keeps fans across North America tuned into up to 40 live games a week.
And that's the beauty of the package. Being able to channel hop between the hours of 7 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. ET on a nightly basis to get our hockey fix and the opportunity to watch all 30 teams in action, especially if you're one who wants to follow your favorite team but live outside the home market.
Now NHLCI isn't cheap -- the Early Bird price is $171.80 by Oct. 30 through four installments of $42.95 -- but it's well worth the investment if you can fit into your family budget.
In Demand has provided us with details on what to expect from Center Ice this season:
MULTI-SCREEN MOSAIC: The popular rotating mosaic of multiple screens that shows all the live action games being played around the league, along with score, time clock and channel location is back for another season. The multi-screen mosaic can be found on the "Game 14" channel of the system's package lineup.
SAME DAY REPLAYS: Each live game is re-aired beginning approximately one hour after live play ends so that fans can see games they might have missed. Each game will replay in its entirety, repeated continuously overnight and the next day, on the same channel, until the following day's live games begin.
DUAL FEED TELECASTS: Whenever possible, iN DEMAND delivers both the home and visiting team broadcasts of the same game so that fans can choose which telecast and home-team announcers they want to watch.
STAT CHANNEL: NHL CENTER ICE EXTRA™: A live source for scores, statistics, game previews, game recaps and schedule information. This can be found on the "Game 13" channel of the system's package lineup.
HD GAMES: The package also offers many games each week in high definition. HD availability varies by system.
All day replays until the following night's games? Yes please! That's a great feature if you find yourself parked in one game and don't want to just rely on NHL.com or On the Fly highlights to get a sense of what happened in the others.
If you aren't ordering the package this year, you'll still be able to experience NHLCI through a free preview from Oct. 6-23.
NHLCI will be available on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent, and Verizon FiOS cable systems, along with a few independents.
The lack of HD games has been an issue in the past with some puckheads. That issue is with the local providers, but given that we're able to watch television in 3D these days, we should be able to see every single NHL game in HD. If you're going to drop $171.80 for the package, the least the consumer should get is the ability to get a good picture quality.
Finally, for those European hockey fans, we'll have something on your on-going situation as far as your ability to watch NHL games this season tomorrow on Puck Daddy.