The 2019 St. Louis Blues will stage a reunion via video conference on Wednesday, the day on which the first match of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs had been scheduled, part of a bid by the National Hockey League to keep fans interested in the sport after its season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be very simple to put out what we’ve already released and to show classic games. That’s easy,” says Steve Mayer, the NHL’s chief content officer, in an interview. “We felt like during this particular period of time, let’s give people something new and something to look forward to.”
The NHL has been working with remote staff to give hockey fans new pieces of content to that they can look at via various broadcast and digital venues, as well as its media partners in the U.S. and Canada, NBCUniversal and Rogers Communications.
Fans will be able to see the Blues reunion at 8 p.m. eastern on NHL.com, the NHL’s social channels on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and on Sportsnet One in Canada
On Tuesday, the NHL will launch #HockeyAtHome, a new series of interviews with current and former players, conducted remotely by broadcast personalities and celebrity hosts. The first episode will be co-hosted by NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen and Sportsnet’s David Amber and feature a series of interviews with NHL brothers currently playing in the NHL: Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks; Marc Staal of the New York Rangers, Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Eric Staal of the Minnesota Wild; and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators. An upcoming episode will feature an interview with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and NHL legend Wayne Gretzky.
The league says the interviews will air Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on NBCSN, at 7 p.m. eastern on NHL Network; and on Friday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on SN in Canada. The series will also be available on demand the next day via the NHL Pause Binge portal on NHL.com, the NHL app and across the NHL’s social channels on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. #HockeyAtHome is produced and distributed by NHL Original Productions.
The NHL expects to continue a series of video conference calls featuring various players and coaches. On Wednesday, April 8, at 1:00 p.m. eastern, NHL Central Scouting will release the final rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft including a media video conference with top prospects and members of NHL Central Scouting. On Friday, April 10, the NHL will bring together NHL head coaches Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, Rod Brind’Amour of Carolina Hurricanes and Rick Tocchet of the Arizona Coyotes to discuss their playing and coaching careers and how they’re coping with the pause in the season.
Starting Thursday, April 9, the NHL will re-air classic NHL games with commentary from members of the participating teams. First up is a re-watch of Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. The special re-watch will air Thursday on NBCSN at 5 p.m.
“It’s a really odd period, because there is so much going on in the world that affects so many people,” says Mayer. “But we also know that there are people who are home and who really want to stay engaged and want to be entertained. That’s what we are doing on a daily basis.”