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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bad News for the NHL

I didn't realize the NHL regular season starts tonight until about 3:00 this afternoon when I went to ESPN.com. This does not bode well for the sport's comeback, since I am the kind of person who would know this sort of thing, even if I'm not that big a hockey fan.

Also, NHL is no longer on ESPN but the Outside Life Network (OLN)--just a slightly less well-known cable channel, which you've probably only watched to see the Tour de France (if at all). Now I won't even end up watching a few moments of hockey by mistake when I turn on ESPN/ESPN2 and see the players skating by, as I used to do from time to time. I don't think OLN is on my cable system down here in DC.

This situation should, at least, provide an interesting case study on the attempted reemergence of a sport after a year is washed away in labor troubles. I fear hockey may have been so far down in people's sports-viewing priorities that it has now fallen off the radar entirely and won't be able to come back. As I've written before, hockey has suffered in recent years because, despite being a wonderful game to go watch in person, it sucks on TV.

Who knows, maybe the rule changes will make a difference that will get people to pay attention. The Olympics should also generate some excitement that may translate back to the NHL.