|Attention sports fans: the NHL All-Star Game is this weekend|
|Written by Kevin Orris, Daily Vidette Columnist|
|Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:33|
If you don’t watch the NBC Sports Network or visit NHL.com, it’s unlikely that you were informed that the NHL All-Star Game takes place this weekend.
It is a well-known fact that the NHL isn’t the most popular league in the states, but still, can the sport of hockey get some respect?
Deadspin.com’s Patrick Burns ran a story earlier this week that revealed SportsCenter spent just 13.5 minutes (2.4 percent) of its time covering the NHL between Jan. 7 and Jan. 18.
As expected, the NFL led the way with 225.5 minutes (40.2 percent) with the NBA at 106.5 (19 percent) and college basketball, 76 (13.6 percent) close behind.
Even if you aren’t a hockey fan, it’s pretty clear that this is an issue with the media giant that is ESPN.
We often hear complaints from people about the biases of major news networks like CNN and Fox News, but it’s about time that people take notice of ESPN’s bias.
Of course, most of the non-coverage is because the two sides do not have a television deal, but 2.4 percent?
This comes during a time when the All-Star Game nominees and captains were announced, Tim Thomas avoided a visit to the White House, four teams sat within just a few points of each other for the top spot in the Western Conference, Sidney Crosby visited a concussion specialist and two of the league’s bright young stars in Luke Schenn and James van Riemsdyk were involved in trade talks.
And to think those are just a select few of the events that took place over the last five days of the aforementioned period of time.
If you are of the school who thinks that hockey isn’t as popular as basketball, I’d be willing to hear your case, but know that the NHL is outdrawing the NBA this season in both total attendance and percentage attendance per game.
Even in markets like Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Nashville, NHL teams are recording attendance percentages of 96.9.
In fact, 14 of the 30 NHL teams are averaging 100 percent or more in attendance this year with three more clocking in at 99.9 percent.
Now, try to tell me that the NHL isn’t deserving of more coverage.
I doubt that we will see an increase, if at all, in NHL coverage in the coming weeks, but at some point, ESPN has to show respect, right?
Getting back to the All-Star Game, the NHL has a format for selecting the teams that is unique to hockey alone.
Last year, the league began embracing our society’s love for fantasy sports by selecting two captains to select teams just like you did in gym class.
Ultimately, Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Phil Kessel, was selected last and in turn was rewarded with a new car among other “prizes.”
This year, the NHL has decided to stick with the event on Friday night and who would have guessed ... Kessel is expected to be one of the top picks in the draft.
Perhaps the biggest news of the event took place earlier this week when superstar Alexander Ovechkin announced he would not attend any of this weekend’s festivities after he was handed a three-game suspension from the league earlier this week.
If you’ve watched the Skills Competition in recent years, you are well aware of Ovechkin’s ability to entertain fans with his creative shootout attempts and goofy Russian accent. That being said, if you watched SportsCenter this week, I doubt you were informed of the news.
Either way, the weekend still figures to provide a high level of entertainment to those both new and familiar with the sport.
Maybe this time ESPN will make everyone aware of the festivities.