(Image via sports.yahoo.com)
Staff Writer: Tom Dunford
When the NHL announced that it would partner with ESPN to cover hockey for seven years, it was seen as a truant and provocative change that the NHL desperately needed. This partnership would grow the game of hockey, get people invested, and begin helping athletes make a deserving salary. This experiment, through two seasons, had done anything but that.
According to Hockeybuzz.com, the NHL finals averaged two million viewers, compared to a whopping twelve million for the NBA finals. The NHL needed change coming to the 2023-2024 season, and they got inspired by none other than the NFL’s very own Redzone.
Redzone: The NFL’s Best Friend
Redzone is an NFL program that allows casual fans to get invested in the game of football rather than the sea of advertisements riddled around a game.
The concept was simple: show every team on offense who is about to score, with the famous slogans umming it up perfectly, “seven hours of commercial free football.” This has benefited fans to get invested in the game and watch their favorite players instead of being forced to purchase different networks and miss out on highlight reel plays.
Along with watching every highlight and whipping around from game to game, Redzone also has a “split-screen” function, showing multiple games happening simultaneously. If a big play coming up in one game and a major penalty or challenge flag in another, Redzone will show both at the same time.
Seeing the smashing success of the NFL Redzone and the growth of football, the NHL concocted its own idea and the topic of today’s article: Frozen Frenzy.
What is Frozen Frenzy?
Having an NHL-Redzone-styled network is easier said than done since offense and defense are not set in stone. There is no exact strategic formation like in football; instead, there is a constant sixty minutes of action.
The NHL decided to follow every team on a power play and the final two minutes of a close game. If a team is down in a one-score game, for example, 3-2, with a minute left, typically, they pull the goaltender and get a sixth player to skate around. This has always been one of the most praised aspects of a hockey game.
The NHL scheduled every team to play on Tuesday, October 24th, starting at 6:00 PM and the last puck drop at 11:00 PM, with another game starting fifteen minutes later. This would allow the NHL to have coverage all through the night, with multiple games occurring simultaneously to avoid commercial breaks.
What Is The Goal?
Frozen Frenzy aims to get people excited about the game and to see what hockey is all about. In recent years, it feels like very casual hockey fans say they enjoy the sport “for the fighting,” but there is so much more than just a couple of maniacs throwing punches before patting each other on the backs and laughing.
The goal is to present the NHL as it should be known: high-flying action with highlight reel hits, goals, plays, and saves, all on ice.
Frozen Frenzy has the opportunity to showcase this spectacular sport to people who may be unfamiliar with it or don’t want to watch “the boring games.”
The new program will also allow fans to get to know players, arenas, coaches, and storylines heading into the night.
Take, for example, the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Washington Capitals. For a casual, every-other-week hockey fan, this is just two teams playing early-season hockey that won’t matter in March or April when the season becomes do-or-die. But with Frozen Frenzy, fans can learn that superstar Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is only 71 goals away from tying Wayne Gretzky for the most goals by a player in the history of the NHL.
These storylines will change throughout the season, and fans can learn through Frozen Frenzy and get excited for what’s to come.
How Did It Go?
It is now late October, and Frozen Frenzy has been shown as the NHL’s very own avant-grande. However, to viewers, it’s clear that this will take some time to perfect. Some aspects worked, while some fell a little short.
With the help of Frozen Frenzy, fans were shown a highlight reel overtime goal by Kraken forward Jordan Eberle to win 5-4 against the Red Wings in overtime with just 4.9 seconds left, and then immediately after, were presented with a Ducks tying goal by Jacob Larsson with a little under two minutes to play in regulation.
Frozen Frenzy was made to bring this quick, highly effective, action-packed sequence, which was intense and filled with drama. With that said, there were some slow moments for every thrilling last-second clutch goal.
When there was no goal-scoring or highlight reel action, the hosts, John Buccigross and Kevin Weeks, would fill the void by discussing contract extensions and upcoming player personal awards, such as Tage Thompson potentially hitting the 100-point mark for a second straight season.
The network also randomly switched to other games without warning, as Weeks and Buccigross were silent. Of course, this could be chalked down to them wanting to avoid spoiling a big play or goal, but the awkwardness was prevalent nonetheless.
Anticipation For the Future
Despite some problems, the NHL has struck gold with this design.
Frozen Frenzy is a must-have for the remainder of the season; with action and drama sprinkling in more and more throughout the season, it will be exciting to follow all teams anytime and anywhere.
This experiment was a smashing success for the league as a whole, and for the first time in what feels like an eternity, there’s actual excitement about the next NHL project and event.