Hockey — and especially playoff hockey — is one of the most entertaining things to watch in all of sports. The action is fast-paced; teams are allowed but one timeout; and even TV breaks are few & far between.
Playoff hockey that begins at 8:30pm on a Tuesday, however, is not as much fun. For anyone involved.
As I’m writing this, it is the afternoon following another Tuesday night, 8:30, Blackhawks playoff game. This particular game, as Blackhawks playoff games tend to do (more on that in a minute), went into not one….not two….but three overtimes. Granted, extra hockey is never really a bad thing — except, when that extra hockey goes until 1:15 in the morning on a weeknight, that the next workday is incredibly tough.
I get it: the Blackhawks are in the Western Conference — meaning, playing Westcoast teams with fanbases in the Pacific Time Zone is likely to occur in the playoffs. Such is not the case in this first round, however; Nashville also falls in Central time (and some of Tennessee is in Eastern time, which gives any fans in that area even more reason to be upset today).
Point being, I think the NHL could be a bit more flexible with playoff scheduling. If two teams residing in the Central Time Zone are playing on a weeknight — especially if these games are being broadcast on cable (where start times are seemingly less stringent than, say, on NBC), why not give the fans a break and start the game at 7, or 7:30?
We’re all capable of reading a schedule, guys. We’ll adjust to an earlier start time. Trust me.
The NHL would only stand to benefit in the ratings department from puck-drops in primetime, anyhow. How many people, die-hard fans or not, honestly made it until 1:15 this morning after spending a day at work? Admittedly, I snoozed-through the first two overtimes — just happening to wake up in time to catch the final third. Judging by all of the people in Chicago who seem to be functioning normally today, however, I’d say 1:15am sign-offs wasn’t a majority of the audience.
Also important to note (in case any of the schedule wizards at the NHL happen upon this): our Blackhawks just so happen to take playoff games into overtime a hell of a lot of the time. While I’m far too exhausted today to look up comparative stats for other teams (thanks, NHL), the Blackhawks played four OT games in their 2009-10 Stanley Cup run; seven in 2012-13 (including one double & one triple-OT game); and, though the team lost to the Kings in the conference finals last season, they racked up seven more playoff OT appearances, including another double and a triple OT for good measure.
That’s a hell of a lot of extra hockey.
And while I love bonus hockey (or bonus anything, really), I’d sincerely appreciate bonus hockey not also meaning games not ending until the next morning — particularly, when that “next morning” is just the middle of the workweek.
Friday, Saturday — hell, even Thursday (who really gets much done on a Friday, anyway?) — start the games whenever you want. But on weeknights, how about cutting us fans a break, NHL? We sure would be greatful.
And far, far less tired.