Robert Esche is entering his second season as goalie for St. Petersburg of the Kontinental League. (Andrey Golubev, JansonsMmedia
I’m going rogue, folks.
Television, in its traditional cable-based form, is dead to me. This shouldn’t have been too hard to see coming, though; most shows on TV right now are horrible and, here’s the key – the good ones can be downloaded for free off of official broadcaster websites.
I can torrent movies or entire seasons of good cable dramas and since no one actually shows music videos on TV anymore, I can YouTube “Midnight Mountain” by Cathedral over and over again and not have to sit through hours of Nick Cannon vehicles in the process. Plus, in Toronto, I basically have two monolithic choices for my cable provider and I hate them both.
So I’m choosing to cancel cable and go with a smaller phone/Internet provider. Then I’m going to hook my TV screen up to my computer and run everything through that.
The fly in the ointment? Hockey, of course.
Could I get all my game-watching in without cable TV? I’ll still pick up Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays, but one or two games a week is obviously not enough for someone who writes about the sport every day. But I think I’ve figured it out.
Just like the NHL has its Center Ice cable package (which is awesome, by the way), it also has GameCenter Live, essentially the same out-of-market package, but streamed on your computer. In a nutshell, problem solved. If you’re a screen resolution nut, I can’t guarantee this is an option for you, but I’m practically a Luddite, so I don’t care.
GameCenter also allows you to watch four games at once, though unless your TV screen came from a James Bond villain’s garage sale, I can’t imagine seriously viewing contests like that. OK, I’ll try it once for the novelty, but after that I’ll just watch one game at a time.
But why stop at the NHL? I’ve got The Hot List to write and seeing more game action from other leagues would be awesome.
At this point, I must concede illegal websites don’t cut it. I know, I know, they seem awesome, but I tried to watch some Kontinental League games on an illegal site and it was a washout. One of the feeds just showed the Zamboni crossing the ice for two hours, while even the games that worked would clip and rebuffer at an unwatchable rate (same goes for NHL matches).
Right now, the KHL is doing everyone a solid by showing a free “game of the week” on its official website, khl.ru. Now, there’s no English site just yet (give it a couple weeks, said spokesman Shawn McBride), but once there is, there will be a couple contests per week to check out.
The American League has an extensive streaming package available at theahl.com. In the amateur ranks, major junior’s three leagues (Ontario, Quebec, Western) all have live streaming packages that can be purchased from their home pages, while the NCAA is represented, but a little more fractured.
Schools linked to the CSTV network (Michigan State, for example), have streaming video on their websites, while others are linked to the B2 Network, which is actually a goldmine for hockey fans. Along with NCAA, the B2 site also carries minor pro hockey (ECHL for example), as well as the two U.S. junior circuits – the United States League and the North American League. You have to pay for them, but where else are you going to find a Cedar Rapids-Chicago Steel tilt, or Columbus versus Fayetteville in the Southern Pro League?
In fact, online I can watch everything, wallet permitting. Why did I ever limit myself to cable TV in the first place? Anyone else have online hockey tips? Hit the comment section below, I’d love to hear about it. Fight the power, people, fight the power.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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