October 27, 2008
Now that we've had an entire day of no hockey to recover from the 15 games on Saturday night, we should take a look back and commend the National Hockey league for scheduling "Super Saturday."
We can get into why there should have been some national televised games on Saturday night to help things, but that's a different story for another day. What the NHL did in promoting the full night's schedule is something that it needs to start doing more.
Hockey fans were excited for a full slate of games, with some scheduling get-togethers and others planning drinking games. Saturday night became an event for hockey fans, sort of like what the Stanley Cup finals and Winter Classic are.
More hockey "events" could make the regular season more than just a waiting period for fans until the playoffs start.
The reason the NFL is a perfectly structured league is because each of its games, especially the Super Bowl, is an event. The games are once a week and the excitement and promotion builds every day until game time. There's a minimum of six days typically between games, plenty of time for buzz to be created.
I'm not advocating the NHL change its schedule to once a week, but I would like to see more league scheduled "event" nights that will create a buzz within the hockey world. One of the things the NHL fails to do on a consistent basis is cater to their current fan base. The league tries so hard to attract new fans it overlooks the millions of puck heads who've supported the game our entire lives (hello glow puck, goodbye hockey in Canada).
How about an "Original Six Night," featuring old announcers from each team and Don Cherry waxing poetic about tough hockey players?
Maybe "Rivalry Night" across the league with well-established match-ups like Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers-New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers amongst others helping to breed intense hockey?
Educating the current fans with "NHL History Weekend," where every team plays a home/away game between Friday and Sunday and dons a retro jersey from their past. Former players are honored and teams could even hold a "Legends" game before the current NHL'ers take the ice. (Why is it no teams have an "Old Timer's Day?")
"Super Saturday" was an event for hockey fans. The Winter Classic is an event for hockey fans. The Stanley Cup finals are an event.
Aside from a few inter-division games on Saturday, there were no storylines involved other than every team in action. Events can promote the game and can make certain nights throughout the season a little more special than your typical night during the regular-season.