Season 3 of “The New NHL” began over the weekend. If only they had treated it like the season premiere of a TV show.
Did anyone rise and shine early Saturday to watch the Kings play the Ducks in London at 9 a.m.?
Did anyone know the Kings were playing the Ducks in London at 9 a.m. Saturday?
Did anyone care?
More pertinently, who on Earth decides it’s a good idea to begin the NHL season: 1) Opposite college football on a Saturday morning; 2) Opposite the final weekend of the baseball season; 3) On the continent opposite the Atlantic Ocean from North America?
If the NHL season must begin this weekend, for logistical purposes, so be it. Just know that you, Gary Bettman, are competing against a three-headed juggernaut known as pennant-race baseball, college football and the NFL. ‘Twould make sense to give your product as much exposure as possible. Say, with a Saturday night game, perhaps?
Or was the 2-game series in London, while obviously an attempt to engage the Brits’ interest in hockey, a less obvious sign the NHL is content being a niche sport stateside – at least for one more season? Perhaps the logic goes that Canadians will tune in for the NHL season opener if it were televised live from Tibet, while Americans, on this weekend, wouldn’t tune in unless Gretzky himself were coming out of retirement to suit up with the Kings for a weekend.
That’s just sad. At least NASCAR moves its race to Saturday during Week 1 of the NFL, which schedules its January playoff schedule around the major college bowl games, which symbiotically avoids losing ratings to the NFL. This 2-game Kings-Ducks series across the pond — across the pond across the country from our two local teams, mind you — symbolized the NHL’s white flag of surrender to the Average American Sports Fan. The Brits, according to some reports, half-heartedly tripped through “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Saturday before belting “God Save the Queen” as if there were no tomorrow.
Not that anyone noticed over here. While NHL hockey may never return to England, there was a tomorrow in America, of course. The NFL and the final day of the baseball season awaited.
Saturday: Kings 4, Ducks 1
Sunday: Ducks 4, Kings 1