Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown and Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller are established names in the NHL, whose exploits are featured on television every game night.
Next year, however, it’s their spouses’ turn to grab airtime and the spotlight.
Nicole Brown and Noureen DeWulf are two of the cast members for “Hockey Wives,” a new reality series that chronicles the lives of eight women who are married to NHL players.
The series is scheduled to debut on Canada’s W Network, owned by Corus Entertainment, in Feb. 2015. As of now, there’s no U.S. cable home for the series, which is expected to run 8-12 episodes in its first season.
Yes, “Hockey Wives.” Not to be confused with “Basketball Wives,” the histrionic reality show on VH1 that featured more ex-wives than current spouses of NBA stars.
“Those comparisons will be made,” said Julie Bristow, producer on “Hockey Wives.”
But where other series of this ilk are salacious, Bristow said that her show will instead be inspiring – showing the wives of NHL players as mothers, entrepreneurs and strong-willed women who aren’t simply defined by their partners’ profession.
Bristow was a producer on “NHL Revealed,” the ‘24/7’-eqsque series on NBC Sports Network that documented the lives of NHL players leading up to the 2014 Sochi Games. Nicole Brown was featured on that program, as Dustin Brown’s life away from the rink was highlighted:
It was during “Revealed” that Bristow began considering a show focused on NHL players’ wives and girlfriends. “The inspiration was Nicole Brown,” Bristow said. “She’s the CEO of that family.”
The producer’s first stop was NHL Network, which had dabbled in reality show content in recent years.
NHLN took a pass.
“They didn’t think it fit their core viewership,” said Bristow.
Eventually, the girlfriends were dropped from the equation, with the focus shifting to the players’ wives. Along with DeWulf – an actress who recently revealed she’s pregnant – and Brown – who once bluntly said “I am not a trophy wife” – there’s a mix of women whose husbands play for American and Canadian teams. (Bristow wouldn’t reveal any more names, only to say that another has a spouse on the Toronto Maple Leafs.)
The goal for “Hockey Wives” was to find a cross-section of women who highlighted different facets of the experience: From those who have been married to an NHL player for decades to those who are married to young stars; from stay-at-home moms to women seeking to kick-start their own careers.
Is there an audience for this show? Well, the wives and girlfriends of hockey players are an obsession to some, with entire websites dedicated to them. So the curiosity factor is there.
The question is whether the entertainment factor is there. A fictionalized exploration of “The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives” called “MVP” tanked in 2008 on CBC, getting cancelled after one season. Will the reality show fare better?
Will it inspire enough for the W Network viewers? Will it have enough salaciousness for the reality show crowd?
Perhaps the most pressing question: Which NHL player will be the first to be asked about something his better half did on “Hockey Wives” that week?