One of the long summer days that I most look forward to is the day I get the TV schedule for the upcoming NHL season. This has been true whether I’ve been with Detroit, ESPN, Florida or Phoenix. After several weeks of hockey withdrawal, it’s the first day to sit down with a cup of coffee in one hand and my calendar in the other to map out the entire season. As I look over this multi-colored Excel document I received from the Coyotes’ broadcast department, here are some thoughts:
- FSN Arizona (40 games) and AZTV (20 games) are back on board as our broadcast partners. Although the fans have to be mindful of which entity is carrying which game, once you’ve tuned into a Coyotes’ telecast on either carrier, you’re going to see just some subtle differences in the presentation. Darren Pang, Todd Walsh and I are back to bring you all the action...and the production crew behind the scenes is virtually the same on both shows. We’re going to continue some of the elements that the fans have enjoyed (Is there a better game show host than Todd Walsh on “The Unknown Doan?”) and add some new wrinkles as well...stay tuned!
- One area where the fans will notice a difference is HD. We have 10 FSN Arizona telecasts in high definition. This is the single greatest improvement in hockey telecasts since the instant replay! Nine of the HD telecasts are at home (including both games against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings) and one HD telecast is on the road from Minnesota. The first two HD telecasts feature Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (Oct. 23) and Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (Oct. 30).
- “Dinner With the Coyotes” is a theme that comes to mind as I look at some of the road games we’re broadcasting from the central or eastern time zones. Much like NBC has promoted “Breakfast from Wimbledon” over the years, why not plan a family dinner or two around some of our Coyotes’ telecasts? The early schedule features games from Ottawa, Carolina, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers and Columbus while the second half of the schedule sees the Coyotes in Nashville, Detroit, Boston and Buffalo. Each of these telecasts start between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Arizona time and several are Fridays or Saturdays (perfect for a Coyotes’ theme cookout!).
Here are some key dates to keep in mind:
- Oct. 11 vs. Columbus (AZTV): It’s opening night against the dynamic Rick Nash!
- Nov. 8 vs. Florida (AZTV): Newly acquired Olli Jokinen faces his former squad.
- Nov. 15 vs. Dallas (AZTV): The first of six games against the division rival Stars featuring agitator supreme Sean Avery.
- Nov. 24 @ N.Y. Rangers (FSNAZ): Wayne Gretzky returns to Madison Square Garden...maybe they’ll actually acknowledge his presence in the building this season (don’t get Panger going on that topic!).
- Jan. 18 @ Edmonton (FSNAZ): Glenn Anderson has his number retired by the Oilers with Wayne Gretzky behind the opposing bench...this will be a fun night.
- March 30 vs. Dallas (VERSUS): This is the Coyotes lone appearance on a U.S. national TV carrier.
I’ll close by noting that this season’s version of the Coyotes promises to be one of the most fun to watch in many, many years. Young stars like Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal
, and Dan Carcillo will be joined by Kyle Turris. Coyotes fans could see other young future stars like Kevin Porter, Mikkel Boedker
, Viktor Tikhonov
or Brett MacLean
. The addition of a number one center in Olli Jokinen will be a huge plus in a division that features big centers such as Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf , Anze Kopitar and Mike Modano. Ilya Bryzgalov will be the main man between the pipes right from opening night. Plus, the added toughness of Todd Fedoruk and Brian McGrattan on this young squad will make for some very entertaining evenings!
That’s all for now...see you at training camp!