Turn Back The Television
Total Pro Sports – A lot has been said over the years on what to do when it comes to increasing the popularity of hockey, the NHL specifically, in the United States of America. Most of the time it involves different rule changes on the ice such as changing the dimensions of the net and even changing the shape of the goal posts which was put to test during a Toronto Maple Leafs practice two weeks ago.
To me all of that is a waste of energy. If the NHL wants to become more popular they have to take a step backwards in order to move forward. What I mean by this is taking television more seriously when it comes to making commercials, shows and how it all gets broadcast.
Right now the NHL only has one show called All Access that tries to take the fan “behind the scenes” but it doesn’t do nearly as a good of job as it should. Plus it’s only being broadcast on the NHL Network which is a digital speciality channel that not everyone has.
When I was a kid I loved watching two weekly NHL shows: NHL Cool Shots and NHLPA Be A Player. Both shows were great. They’d show highlights from the past week and run several features that truly took you “behind the scenes” into NHL players’ lives on the ice, in the dressing room and even in their own home.
My favorite feature was one done by NHL Cool Shots when they had Dan Moriarty, the host of the show, join the Minnesota Wild during the preseason. He was followed around by a camera as he lived a day in the life of a NHL player. It showed him eatting breakfest with the team, taking the morning practice, having the afternoon nap, eating his pre-game meal and they even let him take a shift in their game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Another television highlight that I’ll always remember was the great McDonald’s commercial with Mats Sundin and Wayne Gretzky. They were having a competition to see who could score the toughest goal and it ended up with both players thinking of ways to bounce the puck off of various obsticles in the arena. It’s a very simple concept but was well done and did a great job of showcasing two of the top talents in the league.
Now the key to the two examples I just gave was that they were seen by lots of eyeballs. Instead of just being stuffed onto a digital specialty channel the McDonald’s commercial was played on every major network and both NHL Cool Shots and NHLPA Be A Player were shown on major networks as well such as CBC(Canada only), NBC, ABC and TSN(Canada only).
Mark Messier said it himself during the All-Star weekend that the NHL hasn’t had this amount of young talent since the early 80’s. It’s time the NHL wake up and start promoting these talented players to help people realize how exciting the NHL can be.