The NHL and NHLPA have reached a deal on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement. In summary, the agreement will pave the way for an abbreviated 48-game or 50-game season that will salvage the 2012-13 campaign. The news of the deal spread like wildfire online Sunday morning with news outlets, bloggers and fans on Twitter discussing and analyzing the deal and what lies ahead as soon as the story broke in the wee hours of the morning.
Except NHL Network.
If you flipped on NHL Network hoping to be filled in on the news of the tentative bargaining agreement or news on the shortened season, you were met with replays of the World Junior Championship.
Leave it to NHL Network to miss out on covering the biggest NHL story of the year.
NHL Network still hasn't provided a single second of live coverage on the lockout news. This is laughable.
— Michael Berger (@MichaelSBerger) January 6, 2013
NHL-NHLPA ends lockout. NHL Network is showing a documentary ("Day the Changed the Game") and its rights holder NBCSN "Intrepid Outdoors."
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 6, 2013
Why isn't the NHL Network providing updates? What is the purpose of the channel if it isn't showing news?
— Tom Urtz Jr (@TomUrtzNYR) January 6, 2013
Why is the NHL Network showing a World Juniors rerun instead of talking about the news? Missed opportunity.
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) January 6, 2013
Saw more coverage on the lookout ending on espn than on the NHL Network what is going on in this new crazy world?!
— DJ Bertolasio (@djb5075) January 6, 2013
Their lack of coverage isn't surprising. Despite being labeled "NHL Network" the channel is notoriously late with news and coverage of breaking events. They're either way behind or they don't cover the breaking story at all. Fans are better off getting their breaking news elsewhere and relying on the network only for the handful of games they cover during the year.
However, you'd think that when it comes to the end of the lockout, one of the biggest news stories to emerge from the NHL since the last lockout ended, that the network would interrupt their normal schedule of old programming and discuss the new agreement and start analyzing how an abbreviated season will play out. They'd see an instant ratings hike with people tuning in for all the details and stories they want clarity on. Fans would return in waves, hoping to find talk on which players need contracts, how the new deal will effect free agency and what this means for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Instead, reruns. Talk about a missed opportunity.
Compare this situation to other sports where league networks like NBA TV, NFL Network, and MLB Network are well ahead in offering relevant news coverage. You'd have a tough time not hearing about it. Meanwhile, the NHL knows it doesn't have many friends over at ESPN. In-depth coverage there will be tough to come by. Unlike other sports, the NHL needs to provide coverage personally on their own network or on their affiliate, NBC Sports Network, which also failed to cut into its outdoor programming with the story.
The NHL has never had more to talk about. It's amazing to think the channel named after the sport won't even cover the game's biggest story.