Holiday hockey supply outstrips demand

Hockey enough for ya?
Sports fans, ever so short on options, could have spent their time enjoying the holidays this year in front of the TV for any number of hockey games, each built up and hyped in their own way, instead of, you know, enjoying the
holidays away from the TV.
Between yesterday’s revival of the “Heritage Classic” as the NHL’s new outdoor “Winter Classic,” the usual series of blowouts crowding out a few close contests at the World Juniors (now risen to the point of being a bona
fide Christmas tradition), and the marginal-as-usual-but-for-the-presences-of-Doug-Gilmour-and-Curtis-Joseph Spengler Cup, the last week has been nothing but large headline hockey news.
Last week, of course, just happened to be that little week between Christmas and New Year’s, but surely there are priorities to take into account, right?
And besides, even if any given hockey fan wasn’t interested in any of those three events, there still were regular NHL games and the usual assortment of AHL and CHL matches available for the discerning viewer.
Not to mention the small handful of significant local tilts held in December’s last days for those preferring a trip to the rink.
Perhaps it’s the fractured nature of hockey, but no other sport in the world would try to cram in so many important yet conflicting events into such a short period of time.
Even with the holidays and extra time from work afforded to most viewers, who could realistically make time to watch all of Canada’s world junior games, all of Canada’s Spengler Cup games, and the New Year’s Day Winter Classic match-up between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins—all on top of their usual diet of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night alongside a smattering of games through the week?
More importantly, who would want to?
In this world of several hundred television stations, options are king and hockey fans with a wide array of digital channels certainly have nothing else if not options. But isn’t this just simply too much?
The NHL set the date for the Winter Classic largely to tiptoe around NFL and NCAA dates to not get lost in the crowd of American sports. Perhaps that’s worked out, but doesn’t it say something that the event is getting lost in the crowd of hockey games held over the holidays?
Should the NHL bring the outdoor game back (and it should), perhaps the better idea would be to offer it as counter-programming. Should a rumour prove true and the Detroit Red Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Ford Field (which, it should be noted, isn’t an outdoor stadium), perhaps the parties involved shouldn’t get excited about whether or not football fans care that it happens.
Maybe just before Christmas would be the right time—seasonal, but just before the launch of the World Juniors.
Hockey fans shouldn’t feel pressure to see all of hockey’s best events, and aren’t hockey’s best fans the ones the sport at its highest level should be trying to cater to?

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