Pat Foley’s war against 8:30 p.m. NHL games is the good fight
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The NHL doesn’t care about you, the fan.
If it did, you wouldn’t have to watch the Blackhawks play postseason games that start at 8:30 p.m. That’s all Hawks TV announcer Pat Foley was saying the other night. Judging by the NHL’s response to his on-air sermon, you would have thought he had said ice contained carcinogens.
If Hawks president John McDonough did call NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to apologize for Foley’s Game 5 comments – as Bettman said he did — shame on McDonough. He did not have the best interests of the team’s fan base in mind. And Foley deserved better from his employer.
Starting games earlier seems so obvious that Foley and those of us of like mind can’t fathom the “thinking’’ behind the later starts. You’re not growing the sport in Chicago by showing another game in an earlier slot and then starting the Hawks at 8:30 p.m. on a school night. You’re cutting off water and nutrients to the game. Few people here care about Penguins-Rangers, just as few people in Pittsburgh care about Hawks-Blues.
Here’s some free advice for the NHL: Don’t worry about the national audience during first-round series. Don’t worry about getting all the playoff games on national TV. Don’t worry about ratings and your broadcast partners.
Worry about the hometown fans seeing their hometown team at a reasonable hour. Worry about your sport.
Sorry, Mr. Commissioner, you’re a regional cuisine until the conference finals. Adjust accordingly.
Chicago was blessed with a 7 p.m. start for Game 6 against the Blues on Saturday, which can only mean that somebody at the NHL was napping, probably due to sleep deprivation from the late starts on Thursday.
A school night is no time for the late, late show. In the NHL, it’s standard.
Of the Hawks’ first 10 playoff games last season, five started at 8:30 p.m. Remember the advice Bettman offered fans last year when asked about the challenges of a late game?
“Tape it,’’ he said.
All you can do is shake your head at such a backward league.