During the past several months, many NHL teams and broadcast outlets have faced the question “How might we keep fans interested in hockey while owners and players slug it out in an attempt to reach some sort of agreement that would end this lockout?” It seems the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with the Florida Panthers, found the perfect solution by deciding to televise games from years past, also known as “classics.”
Beginning Oct. 18th and continuing through Nov. 29, the Lightning’s television affiliate, SunSports, aired prominent games from the Lightning’s past. Being that this was to be their 20th Anniversary Season, they began by showing the team’s first game, played at Expo Hall against the Chicago Blackhawks in October 1992.
They followed that up by showing the November 2002 game in which former captain Dave Andreychuk set the NHL record for power play goals.
Then, after seeing that all games in November had been cancelled, SunSports announced they’d continue showing classic Lightning games. They began by airing the Lightning’s first-ever playoff series win against the Washington Capitals in 2003. The month also included the airing of Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Philadelphia Flyers, Games 6 and 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals versus the Calgary Flames and Opening Night 2005, which saw the Stanley Cup banner raised to the rafters.
Personally, I think airing classic games is a great idea and the Lightning should continue with it until this season begins. If it ends up being cancelled altogether–something that looks more likely as each day passes–they should air these games until April 2013, when the season would have ended.
I’m sure you’re probably now asking “Why watch games you’ve already seen?”
Well, weird as it may seem, it’s hockey. I know some people will say that there’s minor-league (AHL/ECHL) or European hockey. I get that. However, for some, the NHL has a way of drawing fans’ interest. Put quite simply we love it, crave it and have a hard time living without it. We’d rather watch games from our team’s past than nothing at all for the mere reason that it’s the NHL. Furthermore, it keeps some fans from leaving their team and the sport altogether out of sheer frustration–something that is happening because this is the second time in eight years we’ve been robbed of games due to a labor dispute!