By Whitney Alen
Hockey fans know that, once the NHL All Star Game is here, the NHL season is halfway through. This year, the NHL All Star game occurs at Philips Arena in Atlanta, on January 26. NHL stars, old and new, will take to the ice, signaling the split of the season. Hockey greats from all across the League will strut their stuff, providing NHL fans with probably the most exciting event of the season, apart from the Stanley Cup Championships. Especially interesting about this year's NHL All Star Game is the reunion of Manny Legace and Chris Osgood, who will be teammates once again after many years. Coaches John Paddock in the Eastern Conference and Mike Babcock for the Western Conference will battle it out this year in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, hockey does not have the brand popularity that MLB, MBA and the NFL have (especially outside the local markets). The lockout in 2005 put a major dampening on the reputation of the sport and it is slowly making its comeback to local stations. Hockey fans in todays market rely on special broadcasting in order to follow their teams. Broadcasting like NHL Center Ice and Hockey Night in Canada are quickly becoming the main resource around the league. NHL.com is the leader for online stats and news while "Hockey Magazine" leads the way in print (if you can find it in your area).
NHL Center Ice is one of the best ways for the NHL fan to track the season from the All Star game through the finals. This package includes as many as 40 action packed games each week, in addition to certain games from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the players approach the playoffs, it becomes increasingly important not just to cheer for your team but to also cheer against those who are in your way. As many as 12 games each week will be broadcast in mind shattering HD which should add some fuel to the fire. NHL Center Ice also features dual feeds for many games. This means that you not only get the broadcast from the home team, but also the broadcast from the away team. This is especially cool for fans that don't live in the area of their favorite NHL team, and otherwise wouldn't have access to the hometown commentary and broadcasting features.
The NHL Network is also available in HD, provides 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week. This is a new broadcating channel that is currently only available to subscribers of DIRECTV. The NHL Network features live games, highlight shows every day, the latest and fastest breaking news from the world of hockey, as well as exclusive programs you can only find on the NHL Network.
Every NHL fan that doesn't already have NHL Center Ice after the All Star Game is going to be missing out on the best games of the season. As the playoff run heats up, so does the skill and passion of each team fighting for those final spots.