Nik Antropov was traded from the Maple Leafs to the Rangers at the trade deadline and recorded an assist in his first game. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Trade deadline day came in like a lamb and went out like a house cat (but a really angry one) and it was all good fun for those of us immersed in its machinations.
In Canada, TSN, Sportsnet and The Score devoted oodles of hours of TV time to the day, while their websites, and others such as NHL.com and THN.com, provided post-to-post, up-to-the-minute storylines, and then some.
Overhyped and over-covered? Perhaps. But, very clearly, there is an appetite for construction (and re-construction) in hockey fandom.
But what about those puck zealots not fortunate enough to have TV or Internet access midday, mid-week? You know, the Joes and Josephines working 9-to-5 who actually have to focus on their employment? Or the scores of students in school, champing to know what the Oilers got for Erik Cole.
On D-day in our Toronto office, we went down to the coffee shop and saw 15 guys craning their necks, trying to glimpse at the lone monitor in order to glean what had transpired at the deadline.
My 14-year-old son Noah, who very much wanted to watch this year’s event (but who doesn’t own a BlackBerry and wasn’t allowed to skip classes), came up with a solution: hold the trade deadline on a Sunday and make it a more inclusive made-for-TV event.
While not everyone is crazy about the idea of working on a Sunday, the idea has merit. Instantly, the prospective audience has deepened and widened from a demographics standpoint, making it a more appealing venture to the advertising and sponsorship community. Thousands more eyeballs would be glued to tubes, particularly in Canada, and website traffic would be bound to spike.
A Sunday afternoon in early March is perfect timing from a hockey fan’s perspective: the NFL is done, MLB is still early in spring training and the weather remains typically crummy in most of the hockey world, meaning the majority of us are indoors anyhow.
And the NHL schedule on Sundays is often light – or could be tailored accordingly – so the deadline wouldn’t have to conflict with a heavy slate of games.
Our Adam Proteau built on that suggestion, floating the idea of having it on all-star Sunday, prior to the game. It would mean an earlier deadline – a concept which has some support in the hockey community – but more importantly, an even more intense spotlight shining on the product. Those not really interested in the East vs. West score-a-thon would now have a new incentive.
For a league on the lookout for expanded revenue streams and increased fan devotion, Super Sunday, whether it’s in February or March, is an idea worth investigating.
Jason Kay is the editor in chief of The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every Friday.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.