Friday, October 07, 2005

Big Opening for NHL

The relaunch of the NHL for the most part went spectacularly well. Congratulations are in order. Attendance was 98% of capacity and that set a opening night record for the league. Television ratings also were good both in the USA and especially in Canada where they were very, very good.
Wednesday's season-opening doubleheader shattered all records for NHL viewership on the network, and rated as one of the most-watched nights in TSN's 21-year history.

"It exceeded our wildest expectations," said an incredulous TSN president Phil King. "Hockey is back in a huge way, that's for sure. It was just unbelievable."

A few numbers for your consideration. The Senators-Leafs early game, combined with a regional Flames-Wild telecast in Alberta, pulled in 2.1 million viewers. It peaked at 2.7 million during the overtime and shootout won by the Sens.

That's more than double the previous NHL high on TSN (a 2004 playoff game), and the first time a regular-season NHL game even cracked the one million mark. It was also the third most-watched event in network history (the top two, both over three million, are world junior hockey finals).

There's more. Game 2 of the twinbill -- Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes in Vancouver against the Canucks, along with an Oilers-Avalanche game in Alberta -- teamed up for an audience of 1.3 million.

TSN research indicated 6.4 million Canadians watched at least some portion of the NHL doubleheader.

"We knew going in that it was going to be one of the biggest nights in TSN history, but not like that," said King. "It was our day to shine.
All in all it was a good opening night all the way around, which I think is a good omen for the future.

The result, for the most part, was exactly what the NHL wanted - more freedom for the most talented players to make plays, and more goals.

A total of 95 were scored on the night, an average of 6.33 per game. In 2003-'04, the average regular season game produced 5.19 goals.

''It's definitely a fun game without all the clutching and grabbing,'' said Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund. ''They're letting us play hockey.''
However there were a few holdouts who were still upset and unwilling forgive and forget including this one particular Canadian that caught my eye.
"No, I'm not watching any NHL hockey. None. Not goin' to any games, not gonna watch any games on TV, not gonna read anything in the sports pages. F@#k 'em. F@#k 'em all," groused McCoveny, an insurance claims adjuster. "They're all a bunch of selfish pricks, the owners, the players...their...wives...
Their wives?

The second night wasn't too shabby either. Here's the National Hockey League Game Capsules from 10-6-05.

Like I've said before put those shades on because the future's so bright your going to need them. I bet Mats Sundin wished he had put his on.

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