We’re just a month away from USA Hockey’s celebratory Hockey Weekend Across America. This year, NBC has gotten into the act and on Sunday, Feb. 20, it will have SIX HOURS of hockey coverage.
With three regional NHL broadcasts and a national game at 3:30 p.m. EST between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks (arguably two of the NHL’s most popular U.S.-based teams), hockey fans will easily get their fix.
However, what has got me very excited is this tidbit of information provided by an NBC press release (via Pro Hockey Talk):
With six hours of coverage (Noon-6 p.m. ET) – which will include four NHL games – hosted from McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Chicago’s Millennium Park, NBC Sports will tell the stories that demonstrate this country’s affinity for hockey – from hockey parents who chauffeur pee wees to practice before sunrise to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships in Minnesota, played by amateurs amidst arctic temperatures, to ‘celebrity’ hockey played by actors and producers in Los Angeles to inner-city hockey in Washington, D.C. that has made a difference in the lives of countless children and young adults.
Hockey is gaining steam in this country, showing stories about the game’s influence in different parts of the U.S. is going to be awfully fun to watch for us hockey people. Not only that, but for the marginal hockey fans that will tune in, it should be an eye-opening experience.
As great as the NHL is, there’s so much more to the game in the United States. Events like the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and celebrity hockey is going to get eaten up by anyone watching.
I believe the Washington, D.C., story will be about Neal Henderson’s Fort Dupont hockey club. If it is, perpare to be inspired. Henderson is a true ambassador of the game, and my first year at USA Hockey, he was given the organization’s highest honor, the Wm. Thayer Tutt Award. He is a very nice man who has impacted hundreds of lives through hockey.
To have a day completely dedicated to hockey, during the time of year where hockey has less competition in the sports landscape, is going to have a large impact. I’m sure USA Hockey couldn’t be happier with the coverage the game will receive in the U.S., and I’m glad that NBC has stepped up in such a way to help promote hockey.
The partnership between NBC and the NHL has been a pretty good one, for the most part, however providing coverage like this in the middle of the season is great for the game, great for the NHL and great for us.
I will have some Hockey Weekend Across America-related content throughout that weekend. It’s a really great initiative that grows every year. With NBC’s involvement this season, it’s only going to get bigger.
It’s been a while since I put out some links, so let’s fix that:
If you haven’t read Sean Leahy’s piece about the young boy battling disease that moved from Albany to Charlotte to follow his favorite AHL team, go read it now. Also, watch the linked YouTube videos in the story. Great stuff, from the Checkers.
Seth Jones is featured in this great Vancouver Sun piece about hockey players that have fathers that were successful in other sports. Jones’s dad is former NBA player and current coach, Popeye Jones.
The NCAA has tweaked its Pairwise Ranking system and Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey Blog hates it. I can’t say I’m a fan either.
Here’s a new hockey blog for you Junior hockey nuts out there. Ryan Clark, of the Fargo Forum started a blog about the USHL’s Fargo Force called Slightly Chilled. Ryan is a great up and coming hockey journalist, so check it out.
If you missed Brad Elliot Schlossman’s outstanding story on the last 10 years of the North Dakota hockey program, it’s a great read. Comprehensive and well written, it’s a fantastic look inside what has made the Fighting Sioux one of the finest programs in the country and the impact of the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
From the department of self promotion (Sorry, this won’t happen often):
Aside from the blog, I’m also a freelance feature writer. I wrote a story for USAHockey.com about Jake Dowell of the Chicago Blackhawks on his decision at age 16 to learn how to become a two-way forward. He was a go-to scorer at the high school level, but when he went to the NTDP, he had to adapt. The reason I’ve linked it is because it’s a great message for young hockey players that want to make it to the next level.
Lastly, I did a story about Nick Jenkins, a 10-year-old sled hockey player from Southern California. Through the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project, Nick’s sled hockey program is up for a $25,000 grant to buy new sleds. It’s based entirely on votes, so please click this link and vote for SoCal sled hockey. You can vote once a day, so help these guys out!