I can’t say I watch NBC Sports Network regularly or pay much attention to their NHL broadcast outside of the playoffs, but one thing I’ve learned is they don’t schedule many (barely any) games featuring Canadian teams over the regular season. Winter Classics are an exception.
NBCSN unsurprisingly sticks mostly to the major markets in the States like Chicago, Philly, Washington, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, and so on. Makes sense, given, you know, they’re an American sports station. In fact, as far as Canadian content goes, over the entire 2015-16 season they only aired two appearances by Montreal, against the Bruins and Penguins – both mid-week games. No Canadian team was featured on a Saturday night.
But now, with the mania over Auston Matthews sweeping through the league, NBC has changed things up on the fly and decided to add Toronto’s home opener this weekend to their broadcast schedule. That’s a big deal.
Call it the Matthews Effect, whatever, the league has gone a bit off the rails after the goal explosion last night where Papi put up four on the Sens, and this NBCSN news really hits that home. Need another example?
Four goal game shirts.
Yes, shirts specifically made to commemorate Matthews’ NHL debut. I am not joking.
This shirt wasn’t made by some weird Facebook fan page, it’s for sale on NHL.com. You can go buy it right now if you want. I certainly won’t judge you.
I’m not sure if I’m personally a fan of it (mainly because of the exclamation mark after the “Four Goals”), but it’s pretty fun to see the league as a whole reacting like this to a Leafs superstar. It might be a little foolish and over the top, but the NHL knows which base keeps the lights on.
Now we’ll see how Matthews follows up his debut when the team heads home for Saturday’s tilt. I don’t think we should expect him to score another four tallies, but for those who want to see if he can, you’ll be able to check it out on NBCSN. Apparently they carry the Leafs now.