Center Ice subscribers who wanted to see Patrick Marleau score his 500th career goal Thursday night were denied the opportunity. For reasons unknown, the game was not televised on Center Ice, the subscription service that lets fans watch every out-of-market NHL game.
Well, every game except the one where a 19-year NHL veteran, on the brink of becoming the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, scored his 500th goal.
But hey — the Oilers-Predators, Jets-Stars and Leafs-Blues games had two feeds each on Center Ice.
As a Center Ice subscriber, I expected to watch the Sharks-Canucks game live. That is why I pay for Center Ice. I was hoping to see Marleau score his milestone goal Thursday night. Instead, I got to see it online after the fact.
I am in Chicago — about 2,160 miles from San Jose and 2,200 miles from Vancouver — so it is safe to say that I am not in either team’s broadcast territory and subject to blackouts. I figured that this might have been a problem with my cable provider, Comcast.
But on Twitter, I found out that this problem wasn’t isolated to Chicago or to Comcast subscribers.
— Zig Fracassi (@ZigFracassi) February 3, 2017
Yo NHL Center Ice! Where is the Sharks/Canuck game??? Looking for Patty going for #500! https://t.co/vHa54YwFfW
— Doug Krainman (@blueline41) February 3, 2017
— Tim Comer (@ottertim24) February 3, 2017
— Jordon Peters (@3peteandrepeat) February 3, 2017
— Matthew Heinke (@mattwebdev) February 3, 2017
Viewers in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kansas City, New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, New Jersey, Virginia and California (outside of the Sharks’ broadcast territory) also could not watch the game. Although I did not talk to a viewer from every state in the union, I’d wager that no one could watch the game on Center Ice last night.
For longtime Sharks fan Matthew Heinke, this was particularly disappointing.
“Normally, missing a Sharks vs. Vancouver game wouldn’t bug me,” Heinke said. “But with Patty at 499, and the Sharks trying to keep the top spot in the Pacific, what a game to be blacked out.”
Heinke lives about 3 1/2 hours south of San Jose in San Luis Obispo. Normally, Kings games are blacked out in his area, and Sharks games are televised. Fortunately, he and other Sharks fans could at least listen to Marleau score his historic goal via a stream of the radio broadcast.
Later Thursday night, Vancouver’s feed of the Sharks-Canucks game was picked up by the NHL Network and televised to the end. But that’s like watching a movie after missing the best part.
This is the second time this week that NHL has been shortsighted when broadcasting games. On Saturday, the NHL held a Celebrity All-Star game that included pop sensation Justin Bieber, but chose to show the game online only, alienating hockey fans and millions of Bieliebers who may have tuned in. Then, last night, the league decided to not show a game where a longtime player could potentially — and did — score his 500th goal.
Do you subscribe to Center Ice, and did you try to watch the Sharks-Canucks game last night? Were you surprised? Frustrated? Leave a comment and let us know. ■