Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Watching the NHL with the third eye, Vol. II

This is the year without cable.

School librarian and budding independent photographer The Upstate Ice Girl will be home with the children this season, wearing her apron and (unbeknownst to her, but hey!, that's what Christmas is for ...) her ice girl outfit, while I grind away at the local community college, tracking down errant commas and style infringements. This decision results in a significant decrease in our income, and although we have an apple tree in our new yard, conventionally purchased groceries and other necessities will take precedence over the NHL Network and the 24 Islanders games not broadcast on Staten-Island exclusive Metro 3, or whatever becomes the Isles' home when Siena is playing Hofstra in men's volleyball (live!).

This could be catastrophic, but I live a well-sated hockey life, for the most part. There is the weekly ball hockey game. There is blogging (guess I'll be doing more of that), and reading blogs. There is the 25th anniversary copy of Slap Shot, calling my name as the wind changes and the leaves brighten. And there is NHL 09. (which I will try to locate today, but probably won't locate until tomorrow, at which time you will find a full review in this space.)

But I still want to watch the Islanders. (hold your applause fellow Islanders fans. cut the laugh track NHL press.)

Looked into Center Ice Online. I know there are blackout restrictions within range of local broadcasts. I can't find a map of said restrictions (or a guide/table/spreadsheet) on the web site. Fair enough. I figure I'll go through the first few steps of account creation, see if I can find the blackout information, then get the Ice Girl on the phone for help in the decision-making process. (goes something like this: I sold my guitar/your camera/one of the children -- for a fair price -- can I get hockey on the computer?)

"Center Ice Online can not be accessed from within your broadcast region."

Mother. F.

I know, as a formerly mediocre and passive newspaper reporter, I could get some background on this and discover the real reason I can't pay someone to watch hockey on the computer. Too hard. I'll chalk it up to evil evil evil Time Warner and what I will suspect is some ridiculous ploy to get me to buy something other than the $7.34/month 2-13 service that will bring me five games (go Pens! go Wings!) on NBC this season.


1. The first time I saw hockey on television I'm pretty sure Tom Mees was broadcasting a Whalers/Bruins game. I have fond memories of Tom Mees, if only because he didn't tell any jokes. You can watch more hockey now than ever before. I know this. Even Vs.

2. What with all of the other media options out there, including listening to Isles' game on web radio (thank you thank you thank you for not getting so goddamn greedy I have to pay for out-of-market streaming radio like baseball or football), I can stay abreast of developments. I would say I could also go to a bar and watch the game, but I'm liable to drop a season's worth of cable fees in a bar session, and let's say "I'm working on that this year."

3. The NHL Network, which I will get next year, is pretty good. Thanks. Whomever.

Here it is: The Islanders are getting pretty good at innovating and understanding new technologies. They're offering interesting tickets packages, great online features, and I'm guessing the trend will continue. The league needs to catch up. It's not a dire situation. I can find hockey, you can find hockey, and there's a certain sense in directing the game's die-hard fans to open their wallets for what they want.

But it's my job to bitch and moan, because I do it well. Let's get that Center Ice Online up here in the wilds of Central New York. And if you can't, I don't want to see any men in suits at my door when I find a P2P site to watch me Isles. I'll buy a hat, I promise, and we'll call it even.

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