Channel surfing just got a lot better for sports fans in Chicago.
On the heels of a season in which the club took dramatic steps forward on the ice comes news all 82 Blackhawks games will be televised next season.
In the years leading up to his passing last September, former Hawks owner Bill Wirtz’s approach to promoting his team was essentially, “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”
Why would fans fork over dollars for tickets if they could sit at home and watch the game on TV without opening their wallets?
The notion may be noble in its old school simplicity, but unfortunately, the only accurate part of the equation was fans weren’t flocking to the building.
Thankfully, the new Hawks leadership – including Bill’s son, Rocky Wirtz – has embraced the fact that in a world where phones take pictures, it’s all about visibility. It’s hard to peddle a product people can’t see.
But that’s all changing now. Visit the Blackhawks website and you’re greeted with words proclaiming ‘The Buzz is Back.’
Increased exposure combined with a well of young talent is starting to make that statement more accurate than optimistic.
Bringing down the Senators
Well, well, there’s going to be a Battle of Ontario this year after all.
The Ottawa Senators, after Tuesday night’s home loss to Montreal, are officially on playoff dropout watch. And lo and behold, what team has a chance to stomp on the Sens’ fingertips as they cling to the edge of a post-season berth? The squad Ottawa never wants any part of come spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And you better believe Maple misery loves company.
Toronto, which hosts Ottawa Thursday night, would cherish nothing more than greasing the slope to accelerate the Sens’ dramatic fall from grace.
So get your hat back on Andrew Raycroft, and take a seat at the end of the bench. Vesa Toskala will return to the crease, while the rest of the Leafs try to channel the ghost of Cory Cross in an attempt to ensure their provincial rivals become a punch line, too.
Ryan Dixon 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 appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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