Tonight, for (I believe) the 6th consecutive Tuesday, I’ll be heading to a hockey game - this time, Agganis Arena, to watch Boston University take on Yale. I’m still not a fan of Tuesday night hockey, but I’ve certainly gotten used to it - which leads me to yet another in my long list of ideas for Hockey East that will surely be printed out by an intern so they can be wadded up and tossed in to the trash.
Last week, I expressed my distress about Hockey East’s schedule - especially the proliferation of midweek games. Make no mistake: the best thing the league can do is reduce the amount of midweek games as much as possible - and make sure marquee games are played when they can create the best atmosphere.
But I do acknowledge two facts:
- It’s impossible to 100% avoid midweek games. The logistics of getting 30+ regular season games in per team require that on occasion there will have to be a game midweek. Emphasis on on occasion.
- It makes sense that Hockey East wants to have a TV deal, and will work with their TV partner to create inventory for them - even if it’s not exactly a glamorous TV partner, and even if it messes with preferred scheduling.
So why not address both issues at once and make Tuesday Night Hockey a Thing for the Hockey East TV deal? This would get in the requisite amount of midweek games to make the schedule work, and would leave Friday games alone to start whenever the schools want to start them (hint, not at 6).
It’s no secret that college hockey suffers from very poor/nonexistent TV viewership. The main culprit for this is that it is generally not a popular TV product and there aren’t a ton of college hockey fans. But another culprit is surely the fact that a large percentage of the small number people who might be interested in watching college hockey on TV (waves!) are usually at a game while games are televised on Friday night.
This Friday night was a rare and special exception: with no BC game on, I happily watched UMass-UConn, Minnesota-Michigan State and Denver-Duluth from the couch. But this usually doesn’t happen, because I’m usually at a BC game. I imagine this is the case for many in the niche crowd that follows the sport.
Why not separate out the weekly TV game from the pack and put it on a night when everyone who might tune in to a college hockey game will focus on that one matchup? Not only might locals tune in to, say, BC vs. UConn on a Tuesday night - you might even get an audience from some fans of western teams who don’t usually have time to watch Hockey East games.
While I remain steadfast in my belief that the very best games, like a BC-BU, need to be put in Sharpie for Friday/Saturday nights at 7 (and these could still be picked up for TV on top of a weekly package should a network choose to do so), there’s a whole host of secondary level inventory that would make for interesting Tuesday night TV games.
This idea could potentially solve (or if not solve, at least address) a few problems. It’s harder to gripe about your team playing maybe 2-3 midweek games in a season if they’re on TV. It fixes the current problem of game times getting screwed up on a Friday night. And it could help create better TV viewership anyway - Friday night is not exactly a night people are home watching TV.
So there’s my free proposal to you, ASN and Hockey East. Tuesday night hockey. Get every team on there twice over the course of the season. Pick some good second-level games. And leave Friday nights alone to be enjoyed the way they’re supposed to be - at the rink, in person, at a time convenient for the paying customer.