Thursday, April 18, 2024

Could Blackhawks’ New, Unique Coverage Make Them An NHL Trend-Setter?


If there’s one thing the Blackhawks have done best over the past decade or so, it’s providing new, unique ways to present the game of hockey. The Original Six franchise is constantly innovating new ways to give its fans a new experience. We saw that take place most recently with the jersey retirement ceremony of Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Chelios, whose sweater was raised to the rafters in a unique day of festivities.

On Monday, the Blackhawks announced that they would be collaborating with the NHL to bring their fans a unique viewing experience once again. In one of the final home games of the year on April 6, the Blackhawks-Stars matinee can be seen on an alternate broadcast where skaters are turned into animated characters. It will be the first time in NHL history that a local animated real-time sports telecast will take place.

The event, which will air on NBC Sports Chicago Plus, is geared toward families in celebration of mascot Tommy Hawk’s birthday. The Blackhawks said their feathered friend, along with some of his pals, will make appearances throughout the broadcast.

“Every day, we’re challenging ourselves to bring hockey to fans in new ways, and we’re incredibly excited to bring the first-ever local animated game to kids across Chicagoland and beyond in partnership with NBC Sports Chicago and the NHL.”

– Jaime Faulkner

Animated broadcasts, such as last year’s “Toy Story Funday Football” in the NFL and the NHL’s “Big City Greens” series have been a huge hit. For a team always looking to bring in new fans, “Tommy Hawk’s Birthday Party” is sure to be a hit. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Connor Bedard’s first career hat trick turn animated?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see more teams follow suit in the coming years. The technology is already there, as the broadcast will utilize NHL EDGE data for puck and player tracking to recreate the action on the ice. The Blackhawks are the first to use it in the NHL, outside of “Big City Greens”, but other teams will undoubtedly follow suit.

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