Saturday is Hockey Day in Canada, the CBC’s annual daylong celebration of the sport, with special features and live broadcasts from towns across Canada, as well as a tripleheader of NHL games featuring the six Canadian teams.
Unfortunately, the NHL returned from the 2005 lockout with an unbalanced schedule that resulted in some teams not facing each other during the season. That schedule format’s been scrapped, but the change doesn’t take effect until next season, and this season the Northeast Division (with Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa) doesn't play the Northwest Division (with Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton). So this year the tripleheader is four games. Two, Montreal-Ottawa and Edmonton-Calgary, are being played simultaneously and broadcast regionally. The other games feature two teams from the United States -- the opener is Detroit-Toronto and the finale is Colorado-Vancouver.
That two of the games won't be seen by the entire nation and the other two games have American opponents just makes the whole event a little less special. If it's any consolation to our Canadian friends, at least Detroit is one of the Original Six NHL teams and Colorado used to be the Quebec Nordiques...ummm, perhaps the fact that a US city stole a Canadian team away isn't any consolation...
Meanwhile, USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport south of the (Canadian) border, has created a similar event. Of course, being America, one day just isn’t enough, so get ready for Hockey Weekend Across America. It features three daily themes: Friday, Feb. 15 is Wear Your Jersey to School Day; Saturday, Feb. 16 is Bring a Friend to the Rink Day and Sunday, Feb. 17 is Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day.
While any grassroots efforts to grow the sport in the USA are welcome, so far their website only lists a small number of events each day nationwide. The web page calls it a “quick sampling” but there’s no link to a more complete list. Even worse, the Phoenix Coyotes are the only NHL team with events listed. America can and must do better than this in 2009. Contact your preferred presidential candidate immediately! -- Joe Guckin