It was announced on Thursday that the landscape for National Hockey League media is changing — and in the best way possible.
NBC, along with Ross Greenburg, have teamed up with the NHL and have created NHL Original Productions, a venture that will produce a wide array of long and short hockey based programming.
Greenburg, a 51-time Emmy Award winner, teaming with the NHL gives fans hope that more programming similar to HBO’s 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic and Broad Street Bullies will continue to see the light of day. In getting Greenburg to work with NHL Original Productions is an absolute steal for the league, as his work on each production for the NHL to this point has been of the highest calibre.
In a press release by the NHL regarding NHL Original Productions, Greenburg said, “Hockey players compete in a sport that requires an unmatched combination of world-class skill and relentless toughness, all the while remaining the most approachable and genuine of professional athletes. I am thrilled to be able to tell their stories in exciting and innovative ways and delighted that I’ll be working so closely with the NHL for years to come.”
For NHL fans, this is the beginning of what could be an era of change in the League. Bringing in a well-renowned producer, especially as high profile as Greenburg, allows for the NHL to delve into storytelling and honouring the League’s past.
If you had the opportunity to catch any, or all, of 24/7 last season, you would remember how brilliantly it was done, and how you found yourself intrigued by the players, their relationships, the inner-working, and seeing things a normal fan does not get to see on any semblance of a regular basis. This is what makes this opportunity for the NHL so unique. Not only does footage, and programming, like that appeal to existing fans, it brings in viewers from the outside.
Long has it been that the NHL has focused on selling the game. South of the 49th parallel, it is no secret that targeting and acquiring new fans has been a bit of a struggle. With major networks — most notably ESPN — often neglecting to cover, or cover in depth, the NHL, it is hard to show people the game. In this, the league has had a difficulty bringing in a new generation of fans and this, amongst other things, has lead to the inability to bring promise to the idea of the League’s stability in the United States.
But by telling the stories — Sid vs. Ovie, Philadelphia and the Broad Street Bullies, the Big Bad Bruins, Detroit and Mr. Hockey, Bobby Orr, Wayne, Mario, the list goes on — and creating new ones through continued production of 24/7, and new original programming, the NHL is only extending its reach.
This partnership between Greenburg and NHL Original Productions could be the start of one of the highest levels of fandom this generation has seen. For all the perceived mistakes the NHL has made in the last decade, you have got to hand it to them, they are only moving in the right direction now.